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This page gives information about teaching music in schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Where guidance issued by the four governments is unclear or silent on issues involved in music teaching, we work to secure greater clarity from the governments, for example through the use of parliamentary questions and direct contact with government officials.
We update this page frequently so please do check for updates regularly.
Page updated: 2 September 2020
All primary and secondary schools should now be open from 1 September. On 23 June the Prime Minister announced that primary and secondary education will recommence in September with full attendance. The Department for Education published new guidance for full opening of schools in England on 28 August.
The guidance delegates responsibility for implementing effective controls to school leaders and governing bodies: 'There cannot be a 'one-size-fits-all' approach where the system of controls describes every scenario. School leaders will be best placed to understand the needs of their schools and communities, and to make informed judgements about how to balance delivering a broad and balanced curriculum with the measures needed to manage risk.'
This means that you may encounter differences between schools that you teach at, so it is important that you make sure you are given any guidance, rules and risk assessments prepared by each school.
The new term started on 24 August for primary 7, year 12 and year 14 pupils and for vulnerable children across all year groups.
See the Northern Ireland Department of Education latest update on school reopening and its revised guidance for schools.
Scottish schools opened from 11 August, with option for phased return but no later than 18 August.
The Scottish Government has published extensive guidance for reopening schools (also available as a downloadable PDF).
Members should note the following:
Movement between schools (paragraph 65):
'Movement between schools (e.g. of temporary/supply/peripatetic staff etc) should be kept to a minimum, until further notice. This includes attendance at school of those who visit, such as visiting teachers, psychologists, nurses and social workers. Recognising the importance of holistic support for children and young people requirement to meet their needs, every effort should be made to secure these wider inputs through lower risk methods such as digital/virtual means or outdoor settings.'
Music & singing (paragraph 129)
'Scientific and medical advice around how activities such as singing, talking at volume e.g.in theatre performance, or playing wind/brass musical instruments can be managed safely is still being developed. These activities should be avoided during the initial return to schools.'
Autumn term start date: 1 September.
Peripatetic teachers can move between schools, but must follow local instructions and procedures at each school where they teach.
Social distancing remains at two meters between adults. The latest guidance from the Welsh government acknowledges that it may not be possible or practical to achieve this distancing between younger children but mitigations include establishing groups to minimise contacts between pupils.
Staff in secondary schools are advised to maintain distance from their learners, staying at the front of the class, and away from their colleagues where possible. Ideally, adults should maintain a two metre distance from each other, and from learners. Teachers should also avoid close face-to-face contact and minimise time spent within 1 metre of anyone.
An employer has a statutory duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees. In order to do so, an employer must carry out a risk assessment, in line with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidance.
If you are an ISM member and you or your colleagues have concerns or questions about any of this please contact us at [email protected]