Exam board understands ‘concerns' after dropping only black composer from course

Jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine was previously part of the Edexcel music course.

An exam board has said it understands the “concerns” raised by its decision to remove the only black composer from its A-level music syllabus.

Jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine previously formed part of the Edexcel course.

A spokeswoman for the exam board, which is owned by Pearson, said the move to take Pine off the syllabus came after teachers said the “volume of work was too high and needed accelerated change in light of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Courtney Pine
Courtney Pine has been dropped from the syllabus (Myung Jung Kim/PA)

She added that it is “vital” pupils study composers from a range of backgrounds and the board “understand the concerns our changes have caused”.

Pine told the Guardian he was “deeply honoured to be included in the A-level syllabus”.

He added: “As a musician that tours the world representing who we are, to have a place in the awareness of our young during these times has been inspiring.

“I have met so many students who have told me that studying my music has contributed to their musical development, they are as aware as I am of the absence of British jazz composers to the syllabus until now.

“I hope that there will be more UK composers who will be asked to contribute to such an important, influential subject.”

The changes will be reviewed for pupils taking exams from 2022 (David Jones/PA)

A spokeswoman for the exam board said the changes would be reviewed for pupils taking exams from 2022.

She added: “We recently reduced the number of set works in our A-level music specification, following feedback from teachers that the volume of work was too high and needed accelerated change in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We consulted the teaching community extensively, while abiding by the strict criteria set by the Department for Education and Government regulator Ofqual, that ensure the set works chosen meet their specific content requirements.

“We completely agree it is vital pupils get to study music by composers from different cultures and backgrounds and want to ensure A-level music remains as rich and diverse as possible.

“We understand the concerns our changes have caused and we will review the syllabus in time for students taking exams from 2022 onwards.”

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