GCSE Results Day 2018: Stark geographical divide in top GCSE music grades

Official figures released on GCSE results day (23 August) show a stark divide in top grades in GCSE music across England, with rural and less well-off areas being left behind the south east.

Statistics from Ofqual show rural counties outside the south east, like Herefordshire, Lincolnshire and Cornwall, falling far behind the national average for top attainment in GCSE Music.

Just 2.3% of Year 11 students in Herefordshire achieved the highest grade 9 in the subject, compared to a national average of 7.8%.

In Surrey meanwhile, 14.1% of those taking GCSE music achieved a grade 9, with other south eastern counties like Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire achieving well above the national average.

Only two northern counties – North Yorkshire and Northumberland – recorded a higher than average proportion of grade 9 music GCSEs.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

‘Many congratulations to students on their hard work and achievements in GCSE music this year.

Today’s statistics show access to music education across England remains deeply unequal. A good cultural education is the birthright of every child. But despite the tireless efforts of music educators and schools, for children in many rural areas it can be a struggle to access the education they need.

The Government has said they are committed to access and diversity. But their commitment to the English Baccalaureate, combined with austerity, means music education in England is under threat. The Government should develop a comprehensive education policy which will give all students access to a full range of subjects to develop the skills they need in a fast-changing world.

Rigorous academic research has shown the value of music in the development of a child’s character, linguistic and mathematical skills and their ability to problem solve. Music is critical to the UK’s economy, our society and the development of every human being.’