The Incorporated Society of Musicians comments on the Education… Jump to main content

The Incorporated Society of Musicians comments on the Education Policy Institute’s report on the education attainment gap

Commenting on the Education Policy Institute’s report on the education attainment gap, the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, said:

‘We are disappointed but not surprised to see that GCSE Music has one of the biggest gaps in attainment between poorer pupils and their peers as well as a large participation gap. The government continues to ignore the overwhelming evidence that performance measures like the English Baccalaureate are damaging arts subjects - as detailed in our 2019 State of the Nation report.

'To achieve the government’s policy of levelling up access to music education, it is vital that they champion music as part of a balanced curriculum and either extend the EBacc to include subjects like music or remove it altogether. We are also calling on the Department for Education to publish the refreshed National Plan for Music Education as soon as possible in order to properly fund our music education hubs and ensure studying music does not become the preserve of the privileged few.’

Notes to Editors

Education Policy Institute’s Annual Report on the education attainment gap

  • The findings on music show that at GCSE level, music has one of the biggest gaps in attainment between poorer pupils and their peers and also a large participation gap. The authors speculate that this could be related to more limited opportunities for pupils both beyond and within the school environment.

State of the Nation report

  • In February 2019 the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Music Education, in partnership with the University of Sussex and the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), published a report entitled Music Education: State of the Nation which outlines the broad landscape of music education in England. The report found that government policy, particularly around accountability measures like the English Baccalaureate, has significantly negatively impacted on music education in schools in England. Curriculum time for music (which is statutory for Key Stage 1–3) has reduced, along with opportunities for children to pursue music to GCSE and A Level.
  • The report also revealed that the EBacc is negatively impacting young people from groups experiencing high levels of social deprivation. Students are discouraged from taking creative subjects in order to focus on subjects that form part of the EBacc. Yet a higher percentage of secondary students eligible for free school meals (FSM) were temporarily or permanently excluded from school last year than achieved the EBacc. You can read our press release and full report.

What is the National Plan for Music Education?

  • The Music Education in England report, otherwise known as the ‘Henley Review’, was published in 2011 and set out recommendations for the minimum expectations of what any child going through the English school system should receive in terms of music education. It highlighted high quality and sustained music education in the school curriculum as the cornerstone of every child’s music education. The Henley Review also highlighted challenges and threats to music education, including inappropriate accountability measures which worked against the Arts, insecurity of funding, patchy provision that led to inequality of access and issues regarding training, recruiting and supporting the diverse workforce.
  • The National Plan for Music Education (NPME) was born out of the review and is based on its recommendations. It was launched in 2012 and is due to expire later this year.
  • A consultation was held earlier this year in order to inform proposals for an updated NPME which is due to be released in the Autumn. However, on 22 July in the House of Lords, Baroness Berridge could not provide a time frame for when the plan would be refreshed.

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally-recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession.

We support over 10,000 music professionals across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds.

We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.

For more information, please contact [email protected]