National Plan for Music Education

Friday 25 November 2011

The Government has today published the National Plan for Music Education.

ISM welcomes Government’s continuing commitment to music education...

We are delighted that the Government recognises the pre-eminence of music education in this country and the central role music plays in our creative and cultural economy. Ninety-seven percent of adults believe that children should be taught music in school*, and the Plan is a clear indication that the Government agrees.

We welcome the Government’s decision to focus on the delivery of high quality music education to our schools as part of a broad  and balanced curriculum via music education hubs and note that even in these difficult economic times, guaranteed funding will be available in the three years from April 2012.

The Government has clearly listened to the sector and we are looking forward to working in partnership with Government to deliver their aspirations for the future.

...but expresses serious concerns over the practicalities...

However, we have serious concerns about the rapid pace at which the new music education hubs are expected to take forward the work of local authority music services, supposedly beginning to operate as early as September 2012.

We already know that many music teachers’ jobs up and down the country are under threat as local government and other bodies make cuts. In these difficult times, with further uncertainty following the late publication, Government needs to ensure that these proposals are turned into a reality, avoiding an ill thought through implementation process.

In addition, we note the proposals for a National Plan Monitoring Board. We call on the Government to ensure that the Board includes at least one person with significant music education pedagogic experience; only in this way can we ensure that the Government’s aspiration for excellent music education delivery is realised.

...and comment on the proposed hubs structure...

We wholeheartedly welcome the Government’s statement that ‘local areas need the freedom to develop their own delivery of music education bottom-up’. However appointing Arts Council England as the mechanism for allocating funds to the music education hubs is a concern. It is critical that, in order to gain the confidence of the music education sector, this funding process is transparent and accountable and that robust processes are in place to ensure that conflicts of interest cannot arise.

...and what the Plan does not cover...

The Government’s recognition that high quality music education is a vital part of the school curriculum is also welcome and should be heard loud and clear by the National Curriculum Review Team.

Music has been in the National Curriculum since 1992 and forms a crucial part of teaching and learning in schools; the plan risks being meaningless until we know the outcomes of this critical review.

At the same time, the Government must now review the English Baccalaureate, as called on by the CBI, Education Select Committee, Henley Review of Music Education in England, and the ISM.

...and what this means for the workforce.

The Government’s acknowledgment of the crucial role professional development plays within the sector is welcome and we look forward to taking an active role as the sector’s professional association, working  with Creative and Cultural Skills, ACE and other bodies in the development of appropriate qualifications for music educators.


* 97% of people who gave an opinion believe children should be taught music in school in a YouGov poll conducted on behalf of the ISM in February 2011.