25 organisations call for funding for music education Jump to main content

25 organisations call for funding for music education

As the government’s consultation on the Comprehensive Spending Review ends, a joint letter led by the ISM, MTA and Music Mark has called for sustained funding that delivers a world class music education system. Delivered to the Education Secretary, it has been supported by more than 25 organisations and focuses on:

  • music education beyond the curriculum – the instrumental and vocal work developed and delivered by the music education hub partnerships across England.
  • the work of our national youth music organisations, the Music and Dance Scheme and the In Harmony programmes.

Young people deserve access to a world class music education, sustained over a period of time to enable them to progress and flourish.

The joint letter and list of signatories can be seen below or for more information, please contact [email protected]

Commenting on the joint letter, the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, said:

‘It is vital that every child can access a quality music education. To do this there needs to be sustained and meaningful government funding. We call on the government therefore to support these music programmes, which in many cases have played an important part in the levelling up agenda. Some of them have become embedded in their communities, giving opportunities to some of the most deprived children in the country.

‘Without continued and appropriate levels of funding, we risk damaging our children’s music education and putting at risk the jobs of many extraordinarily committed teachers, who have worked so hard to provide access to music during these difficult times. The benefits of music for tackling anxiety, stress and depression are well documented, so now more than ever it is crucial that mental health problems and existing inequalities are not exacerbated through a lack of funding.’

Commenting on the joint letter, CEO of Music Mark, Bridget Whyte said:

'If we are to truly ensure that there is equitable access to musical learning, the aspiration of the current National Plan for Music Education, then those providing the inspiring, enriching and diverse range of opportunities to learn, compose, make and enjoy music need to be given the financial support to do so. This is about ensuring that every child can access and progress to the level they wish - whether that’s learning an instrument with a view to going into the music profession, writing songs as a way to express themselves or exploring their identity and the wider world through music. We cannot lose this opportunity to ensure that all children and young people, regardless of circumstances, have the music education they want and deserve, and without significant investment now and into the future we might!'

Commenting on the joint letter, President of the MTA, Simon Toyne said:

'Music in schools is supported by an extraordinary musical ecosystem of music education hubs and national youth music organisations. This provides the opportunity for every young person not just to make their first steps in music but to progress to the next stages in their musical development. Some will become professional musicians; some will play vital roles in our country’s thriving culture of amateur music-making; some will make their careers in our world-leading creative industries; many will be enthusiastic participants in live and recorded music-making as listeners; all of them will have their lives significantly enhanced by their early experiences of music.

'Music education that is truly outstanding takes time and care to take root and develop. We call on the government to help us facilitate the musical lives of our young people through committing to sustained, long-term funding of our music education hubs and national youth music organisations.'

    See the open letter and full list of signatories in support to the Chancellor below

    The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP
    Secretary of State for Education
    20 Great Smith St,
    London SW1P 3BT

    Dear Secretary of State for Education

    With the comprehensive Spending Review currently in progress, we are writing to you to stress the importance of sustained funding from the Department for Education for the many organisations working in the music education sector in England. Through the vital work of the 120 Music Education Hubs, the National Youth Music Organisations, organisations funded by the Music and Dance Scheme and the In Harmony programmes, the country’s children and young people are enabled to access opportunities to explore, learn and progress in music.

    England is unique in its commitment to music education through both the National Plan for Music Education (NPME) and funding to support the aspirations of that plan. Over the past eight years, the realisation of the NPME has resulted in thousands more children and young people making music, learning instruments, composing, performing and experiencing high-quality musical events in addition to their statutory curriculum entitlement. The picture from annual data returns demonstrates the huge impact of the DfE’s funding for music education but more could be done.

    We welcome the government’s commitment to rebuild, level up and invest in people and places spreading opportunities more evenly across the nation as part of the recovery from coronavirus. Music educators have been at the forefront of innovative practice over the last six months, ensuring that musical learning has remained available to children and young people across the nation during the pandemic. There are countless examples of how music has been central to their lives and wellbeing. Addressing the challenge of accessibility has always been a key driver for the sector and many valuable and exciting lessons have been learnt which will permanently influence the way music education is delivered.

    The music education sector eagerly awaits news of the refresh of the NPME and is keen to contribute to its development, having gained so many insights in the last six months. We are ready to be part of a ground-breaking NPME which prioritises equitable, accessible and diverse musical opportunities for all children and young people, regardless of where they live and their social or cultural circumstances. Creative subjects have never been more important to wellbeing because they can help make sense of everything young people have been through in recent months.

    Since we wrote to you last year to highlight the ongoing financial challenges facing Music Education Hubs, a further 71,000 pupils have joined school rolls and the sector remains beleaguered from above-inflation pressures in the costs of staffing, venues and equipment. Add to this the persistent uncertainties over what can be delivered in and out of schools, inconsistent local advice, variable interpretation by schools and venues and the ever-present threat of local restrictions. With deficits, lost income and eroded reserves, the sector desperately needs not only assurance of the DfE’s ongoing financial support but for 2021/22 a significant boost to ensure its survival.

    We are therefore calling on you to commit to a grant of £110m in 2021/22 to distribute to Music Education Hubs. We also call on you to pledge to provide a similar increase to all other music education programmes supported by the DfE, such as for the In Harmony programme, National Youth Music Organisations and the Music and Dance Scheme. This will help achieve the government’s policy of levelling up access to music education and place it at the heart of the recovery curriculum.

    In addition, in recognition of the importance of organisational stability to strategic planning and sustained delivery, and of the six months of unprecedented and unrelenting uncertainty that music education has experienced, we ask that you make an indicative promise of support for the sector for three to four years. This will enable music education organisations to enjoy the more stable future that is the Government’s ambition for the country.

    Schools are making a strong effort to accommodate safety measures in response to coronavirus. Our #CanDoMusic campaign has shone a light on thousands of schools that are placing music at the heart of school culture since their full return at the beginning of the month; indeed, many have chosen to increase their music provision as a specific response to their community's needs. However, we are hearing reports that not all schools have been delivering music education in line with the national curriculum. There may be many reasons for this but at this time when music has never been more important for our school children we urge the DfE to make it clear that all schools, whatever their status, deliver a broad and balanced curriculum which includes music across all relevant key stages in line with the national curriculum.

    Our children and young people both deserve and need a world class music education. They also deserve and need to be able to access that education over a sustained period of time, to enable them to progress and flourish.

    The music education sector stands ready to provide this world class education: will you facilitate them to do so?

    Yours sincerely,

    Bridget Whyte (CEO, Music Mark)

    Deborah Annetts (Chief Executive, ISM)

    Simon Toyne (President, MTA)

    List of Signatories

    To add your organisation's name please e-mail [email protected]

    Aleksander Szram (Programme Leader: BMus and Foundation, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)
    Ann Wright (Director of Education, VOCES8 Foundation)
    Asa Malmsten (CEO, Sound Sense)
    Betty Heywood (Director of International Affairs, NAMM)
    Carien Meijer (Chief Executive, Drake Music)
    Dr Julia Partington (University Lecturer, Music Education, Newcastle University)
    Dr Michelle Phillips (Chair, MusicHE)
    Dr Sophie Fuller (MMus programme leader, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)
    Fiona Pendreigh (Chair of Music Education Council, Music Education Council)
    Freya (Digital Learning Coordinator & PA, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)
    Helen Julia Minors (School Head of Performing Arts; Co-Chair Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Music Studies Network UK, Kingston University)
    Jennifer Coleman-Peers (Interim Chief Executive, Voices Foundation)
    Joe Townsend (Programme Leader BA Music Performance and Industry , Trinity Laban Conservatoire)
    John Habron (Head of Music Education, Royal Northern College of Music)
    Judith Robinson (Head of Education, Sound and Music)
    Leslie East (Chair, The Association of British Choral Directors)
    Liz Giannopoulos (Operations Director, EPTA UK)
    Mark Pemberton (Director, Association of British Orchestras)
    Matt Griffiths (CEO, Youth Music)
    Michael Elliott (Chief Executive, ABRSM)
    Neil Chippington (Chair, Choir Schools' Association)
    Neil Preston (Chairman, European Guitar Teacher's Association UK)
    Niav O'Higgins (Alan Bush Music Trust )
    Paul McManus (CEO, Music Industries Association)
    Philip Flood (Director, Sound Connections)
    Prof. Nic Pendlebury (Head of String Department , Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)
    Professor Linda Merrick (Principal, Royal Northern College of Music)
    Roz De Vile (Chief Executive, Music Masters)
    Sergio De Simone (Head of keyboard , Trinity Laban conservatoire of music and Dance )
    Tim Palmer (Head of Music Education, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)

    Notes to Editors

    About the letter

    Music education hubs are receiving a proportion of a total grant this year (2020 - 2021) of £76.1m and this figure is the same as the previous year (2019 - 2020). Before that, it was approximately £75m for three years and previously it had been even less.

    Prior to the creation of the hubs, the Music Education Grant given to music services was approximately £82m. That means music education is still receiving the same level of support as in 2011 - 2012, at which time local authority funding was more widespread as well.

    Further information

    The #CanDoMusic campaign was launched last month to protect music in schools.

    In July, Over 400 music education professionals wrote a joint letter calling on the government to support music education in all schools.

    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]

    About Music Mark

    The UK Association for Music Education - Music Mark a membership organisation and Subject Association for all those who support its vision of excellent musical learning in and out of school for all children and young people in the UK which inspires and enriches their lives. We aim to support our members through training and resources, help to connect them with colleagues across the UK through newsletters and events, and influence on their behalf at a national level.

    About the MTA

    The Music Teachers’ Association is the largest and longest established association of music teachers in the UK, supporting all who are connected with a school music department.

    It is the Mission of the Music Teachers’ Association to provide first-class training, support and networking opportunities to all those who work in Music Education. Through our outstanding publications and our exceptional Annual Conference and CPD programme, we inspire a membership which passionately believes that schools and their pupils’ lives are deeply enriched by a high quality music provision.