Department for Education launches consultation on future of music education in England

In preparation for the launch of a new edition of the National Plan for Music Education (NPME) in autumn 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced a Call for Evidence, inviting views from musicians, specialist teachers, young people and their parents about their experience and what they want to see in the ‘refreshed’ National Plan.

The current National Plan was first published in 2011 and established the music education hubs across England. The DfE wants the 2020 edition of the Plan ‘to help reflect advances in technology in the way music is created, recorded and produced, and to reassess the music education young people benefit from at school’, and aims to ‘level up opportunities for children from all backgrounds to take part in musical education, including the chance to learn how to play an instrument, perform in a choir or band, and develop a lifelong love of music’.

Explainer: what are music hubs?

A vital part of a broad and balanced curriculum

The Call for Evidence includes specific questions on SEND and inclusivity, music technology and music hubs. Responses to the consultation will ‘help inform changes to the plan which will then be fully consulted on’.

The DfE states within the online submission that ‘Our ambitions for music education are high – the opportunity to study and understand music isn’t a privilege, it’s a vital part of a broad and balanced curriculum. That is why it is compulsory in the National Curriculum up to Key Stage 3. It is in this context that we are now refreshing the National Plan for Music Education, to ensure we continue to deliver high-quality music education for all pupils.’

Placing young people’s music-making, wellbeing and ambitions centre stage

Matt Griffiths, CEO of national charity Youth Music, has described the Call for Evidence as ‘a positive step forward’ and encourages contributions from across the sector:

Matt Griffiths - CEO of Youth Music
Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music

‘Inclusivity and diversity must be at the heart of the refreshed National Plan for Music Education, encompassing all aspects of music and music education in a shared vision… placing young people’s music-making, wellbeing and ambitions centre stage so that their life in music starts early, they can progress and that the workforce supporting them is innovative and connected.

‘I urge all involved in music education, the music industries, and particularly young people, parents and carers, to make the most of this important opportunity by contributing their evidence and, importantly, suggesting actions for the refreshed plan.’

A once-in-a-decade opportunity

Tom Kiehl, Acting CEO of national music industry umbrella organisation UK Music, said:

‘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.

‘Universal access to music within state education should be prioritised, alongside a broad-based music education within curriculum learning.’

Nick Gibb, School Standards Minister, 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.’

Darren Henley, Arts Council England Chief Executive, said:

‘Learning to perform and compose music is a life changing experience, unlocking decades of discovery, enjoyment and creativity. The Government’s commitment to a new National Plan for Music Education is an exciting step in nurturing the next generation of creative talent across England. These young people will go on to become the music industry professionals and the audiences of the future. It’s important that everyone who cares about music takes part in this consultation so that all young people get the chance to fulfil their musical potential.’

More information

Submissions to the Call for Evidence may be made until 11.59pm on 13 March 2020. Visit the DfE website for further information.

Author: MUSIC:ED

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