GCSE results day 2019: further fall in the uptake of GCSE music

Figures published today by the Joint Council for Qualifications show that the uptake of music has declined by 18.6% over the past five years.

Over the past year alone, there has been a 2.3% decline in the number of GCSE entries in music.

Pupils across the country picked up their GCSE results today (Thursday 22 August 2019.)

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

‘We congratulate pupils on their achievements today and commend them for their hard work over the past two years. However, we remain deeply concerned regarding the continued decline in uptake of GCSE music, a non-EBacc subject, which has now fallen by 18.6% since 2014.

A wealth of research, including from the University of Sussex, BBC and the NUT demonstrates the devastating impact accountability measures, such as the English Baccalaureate (EBacc,) has on music education and creative subjects. Yet, the Government has conceded that their target for 75% of pupils to be entered for the EBacc by 2020 (90% by 2025) is not being met, with the rate of take-up plateauing at 38% for the past five years.

The focus on the narrow range of EBacc subjects has, in some cases, prevented students from studying music as part of their secondary school curriculum. Music is no longer taught at Key Stage 3 in more than 50% of state-funded secondary schools, including some schools still under local authority requirement until the end of Year 9. Other schools are moving towards music only being offered on a ‘carousel’ basis (offered for part of the year on rotation with other subjects) or taught on one day per year.

For many students, the classroom is the only place where they are able to access music. We urge the Government to act quickly to ensure music does not become the preserve of a privileged few, and that means reforming the EBacc or dropping it altogether.’