Education secretary Michael Gove has spoken out against advice given to teachers by the Musicians’ Union.
The organisation, alongside the NSPCC, produced a short three-minute video warning educators against touching pupils in lessons and highlighting the dangers of abuse allegations.
However, Mr Gove has condemned the film, stating that it is playing “to a culture of fear” and sending the message that any adult who touches a child is guilty of inappropriate conduct.
According to the Keeping Children Safe in Music – Inappropriate Demonstration video, contact can “make students feel uncomfortable. It could leave you open to a charge of inappropriate behaviour. Use your creativity to find other, equally effective, ways to demonstrate”.
But in a letter to the organisations involved, Mr Gove said he was “disappointed” by the film’s content and he took the time to state his view that attitudes need to be changed.
“By telling your music teachers that they should avoid any physical contact with children, it sends out completely the wrong message,” he said.
“It plays to a culture of fear among both adults and children, reinforcing the message that any adult who touches a child is somehow guilty of inappropriate contact.”
Furthermore, Mr Gove said it was “important” that people teaching children “felt confident that they can demonstrate how to master instruments and improve techniques by intervening physically with children”.
This, he said, should be the case “whether it is adjusting the position of a violin or demonstrating how to handle drumsticks, showing how a trombone slide should work or introducing new subtleties in oboe playing”.
The news follows previous comments from Mr Gove last year implying that he intends to scrap the “no touch” rules imposed upon teachers.
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