MPs debate effect of coronavirus on music education Jump to main content

MPs debate effect of coronavirus on music education

The debate

Today (8 December), MPs debated a motion in Parliament from Andrew Lewer MP about the effect of coronavirus on music education. The ISM’s external affairs team worked with him to secure the debate, which came just days after the publication of our latest report entitled The heart of the school is missing.

Lewer is Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Independent Education. Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, responded on behalf of the government and a full transcript of the debate can be found online.

Lewer opened the debate by emphasising the value of teaching creative subjects properly so that "our whole society benefits". Jim Shannon MP then made a powerful contribution about how "the undisputed benefits of music within society are at greater risk now, than at any time in history". Following his contribution, Lewer continued the debate by discussing the "essential talent pipeline" that feeds the UK's creative industries which depends on students' extra-curricular activities. Later he quoted from our State of the Nation report citing curriculum narrowing due to the EBacc. He then recommended that the government read our latest report highlighting the devastating impact of COVID-19 on music education.

Jane Stevenson MP drew on her experience as a former professional singer and music teacher to say "music is essential to build children's' confidence...it has a benefit on a wide range of other academic subjects" and praised our innovative Can Do Music resources. Stevenson also raised the issues around the National Plan for Music Education and, in her final contribution, sought reassurance from the government that disruption to teaching will be taken into account for exams and grading.

Government response

In the Minister's response to close the debate, Michelle Donelan MP said:

  • "Music education remains a central part of a broad and balanced curriculum, the one that the honourable member was promoting, and that is why it is a statutory subject from age 5 to 14 in the National Curriculum and why pupils have an entitlement to study at least one arts subject in Key Stage 4 in maintained schools."
  • "From 2020-21 the ITT census shows that we have provisionally recruited 483 post graduate music trainee teachers. This is 125% of the postgraduate ITT target for music. So the bursaries and incentives are reviewed regularly to ensure that we are filling the skills gaps and the needs and they may be put back in place at a later date."
  • "This Government does remain committed to supporting music education and we will update funding shortly for the financial year 21/22."

It is worth noting that, while Donelan urged "everybody to input" into a consultation on the National Plan, it actually closed already on 13 March 2020.

Next steps

As part of our campaigning on music education continues, we will continue to work with MPs to hold the government to account and seek answers about how the needs of pupils are being considered during the coronavirus crisis. The ISM will keep making the case that a broad and balanced curriculum must be delivered in all schools, whatever their status, across all four nations of the UK. Part of that board and balanced curriculum must be music.