ISM writes to Education Minister about ban on music at schools in Northern Ireland
Ahead of tomorrow’s formal review of the roadmap out of the lockdown in Northern Ireland, ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts has today (14 April) written to Education Minister, Peter Weir MLA regarding the current rules for singing and playing wind or brass instruments on school premises.
We have asked for the Minister to clarify why this decision has been made, as a number of our members have expressed their worry about this directive. Schools have worked incredibly hard to ensure that risk assessments are undertaken, and the appropriate safety measures are put in place throughout the COVID crisis.
The current policy impacts not only teacher’s income but also the wellbeing and progress of the pupils they teach. It is also contradicts the current Northern Ireland Coronavirus regulations guidance which permits private face-to-face music tuition in private homes ‘as long as social distancing measures are maintained and there is no close contact’.
We are particularly concerned that the current rules will disadvantage or negatively affect pupils undertaking GCSE and GCE examinations where the performance element is worth around a third of the overall marks.
Annetts asked the Education Minister for a detailed response to the following questions:
- What is the evidence base to justify this ban in school setting?
- Why are there inconsistencies in the rules between different settings?
- What steps are your Government taking to ensure that pupils studying voice, woodwind or brass instruments are not disadvantaged?
- Is there any indication that this position may change in the near future as part of
the roadmap out of the lockdown?
It is well documented that singing and music-making has a positive impact on young people’s confidence, as well as their social, emotional, and educational well-being. As we move out of lockdown, this is needed now more than ever.