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70% increase in uptake of music qualifications in England since 1994 – report

A new report on the state of music education in England by Norton York, Founder and Chairman of the RSL Awards examinations board, reveals that while there has been a decline in the number of GCSE music qualifications achieved, the overall number of exam candidates is increasing, largely due to the growth of vocational music qualifications.

The overall number of pupils taking music exams has risen from 42,000 in 1994 to over 72,000 in 2021.

This rise is driven by the growth in take-up of vocational music qualifications offered by Pearson, RSL Awards, UAL and others. From 1994, the number of pupils taking these qualifications rose from just 83 (1994) to 30135 (2021). For the same period, the number of pupils taking music GCSE and A levels fell from 42803 to 39710.

In 2022, pop music qualifications comprised 44.4% of all school and college music qualifications in England. If the trend of growth continues, pop music qualifications may overtake music GCSE and A levels by 2025 or 2026.

Read Norton York’s report in full here.