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Government launches national plan for music education

Headlined as ‘The power of music to chance lives’, the English government has launched its refreshed national plan for music education (NPME)

Created with Arts Council England (ACE), Youth Music, Music Mark, Music Teachers Association and others via a panel of experts chaired by Veronica Wadley, Baroness Fleet, the updated plan follows the Model Music Curriculum, published last year. It sets out the government’s vision for music education until 2030, emphasising opportunities for all young people, regardless of educational needs, disabilities or backgrounds.

The new approach will continue with the Music Education Hub model started in 2011 with funding distributed by ACE, but new emphasis will be placed on the hubs to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) across all schools, with better access to instruments and with improved opportunities beyond the classroom. Digital music platforms and other technology will also see increased priority to improve inclusivity, a positive side-effect of the pandemic lockdown period. The government promises to invest £25 million in instruments and equipment across England.

Four of the Music Hubs, as they will now be known, will be chosen as national Music Hub centres of excellence through open competition over the next two years. They will be expected to develop relationships with a range of organisations in different aspects of their sector help the entire hub network model best practice in Inclusion, Continuing Professional Development for educators, Music Technology and Pathways to Industry.

As the ministers Robin Walker MP, Minister for School Standards, and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Minister for the Arts, said in the foreword to the plan, ‘We want to see more children and young people supported to navigate the many exciting opportunities available to progress with music beyond their core school provision.

‘This could mean taking music qualifications with a view to a career in music, or simply continuing with music for pleasure. It is vital that each part of the music pipeline – schools, community music, further and higher education, and employers in the music and wider creative sector – collaborates to create joined-up talent pathways. Opportunities should be available for all, but we should not be hesitant in creating an elite of musicians, akin to the elites we celebrate in sport. We should be proud to support musical excellence.’

The rollout of the NPME will be closely monitored by the new National Plan for Music Education Board on an evidence and needs basis. The government will work with the board to develop systems for monitoring and measuring the success of the plan and its delivery across the Music Hubs in each county. Exactly how this will work will be announced at the end of the year. 

As a panel member on the project, Darren Henley, the CEO of Arts Council England said, ‘As the National Plan acknowledges, we still have a way to go to ensure every young person can realise their musical potential. Here at the Arts Council, we recognise that opportunities for children and young people to experience creativity and culture inside and outside school are still not equal across the country.

‘Over the coming months and years, I look forward to working closely with colleagues at DfE and DCMS, music educators in nurseries, schools, colleges, universities, music organisations and conservatoires, along with music professionals from across our diverse creative and cultural industries to bring the plan to life. Together, I believe we can improve musical opportunities for our children and young people, guided by this new plan.’