The UK government’s Department For Education yesterday invited musicians, music industry people, teachers, young music-makers and their parents to contribute to a consultation that will result in a new National Plan For Music Education in England.
The last National Plan For Music Education of this kind was published in 2011. The government says that the new plan now being developed will be a “refresh” of the 2011 document, and that it hopes to have it ready to launch by autumn this year. The consultation that will precede that publication will, in particular, reflect on “advances in technology in the way music is created, recorded and produced”, and “reassess the music education young people benefit from at school”.
Confirming all this, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “All children, regardless of their background, should get the opportunity to play musical instruments, learn to sing and learn how to read and write music in the classroom. I want to continue to level up opportunities so all young people can get the best out of their music education. We can only achieve this if we reflect on the latest advances in music and work together with experts in the music industry, specialist teachers, as well as reflecting on young people’s experiences”.
Although billed as a simple “refresh” of the 2011 plan, many in the music education community and music industry will be hoping that the consultation being undertaken to inform the refresh will still put the spotlight on various issues that it’s felt have hindered music education in England over the last decade.
Certainly cross-sector trade body UK Music does. Its CEO, Tom Kiehl, responded to the news about the new plan by saying: “We have consistently warned of a growing crisis in our talent pipeline as a result of a decline in music in state education – a new National Plan For Music Education presents a once in a decade opportunity to fix music in schools”.
“Over the past five years, the number of people studying A-level music has declined by an alarming 30%, while the total number of people studying A-levels dropped by only 4% over the same period”, he went on. “We need to take advantage of a new plan to invest in our future. The UK music industry is worth £5.2 billion to the economy and employs over 190,000, but to sustain growth there are a number of steps the government should take with a new National Plan”.
Listing UK Music’s priorities, he added: “Universal access to music within state education should be prioritised, alongside a broad-based music education within curriculum learning. Music in schools should be incentivised through the Ofsted inspections framework. Greater provision for rehearsal spaces, such as the UK Music network, should be taken forward. And the new plan should also be informed by an independent analysis of the music education hubs”.