National body needed to rescue music in education in Wales from crisis – report

A new national body should be created with responsibility for delivering music services across Wales, according to a report by a Welsh National Assembly committee, published on 14 June 2018.

The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee concluded that a radical new approach is needed to save the sector from a crisis caused by continuing funding cuts and moves to simply paper over the cracks.

During a consultation process, the committee learned of substantial differences in the provision of music education in different parts of Wales, caused in part by funding cuts, but also through a lack of strategic leadership from the Welsh Government.

The Committee noted the Welsh Government’s National Endowment for Music and Musical Instrument Amnesty programme, and its award of £10,000 per local authority to buy musical instruments, but agreed with evidence from other stakeholders who described it as ‘a drop in the ocean’.

More focus on rock and pop to support inclusion and improve relevance

The Committee recommends that more focus should be given to teaching children modern, popular music genres. While the more traditional music genres such as classical and orchestral music remain vitally important, more focus on rock and pop music would provide a wider range of skills and offer a more inclusive and relevant path for many pupils.

Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, said:

‘As a musician who came through the music education system I have seen first-hand the value and the opportunities it provides. As such, I am passionate about addressing the urgent need to sustain and develop music in Wales and believe we must now come up with radical solutions in the face of continuous cuts to these services.

‘This report specifically focuses on addressing the shortfalls and achieving consistency across Wales, in order to ensure that every child, regardless of their location or financial backing, has an equal opportunity to progress to excellence.

‘The time has come to not simply paper over the cracks but to give sufficient resource and clear direction to the sector.’

National Action Plan for Music

The report makes 16 recommendations in its report, including:

  • the Welsh Government should transfer responsibility for the delivery of music services to an arms-length, national body with a distinct regional delivery mechanism and footprint. The national body should be core funded by the Welsh Government and should be made responsible for ensuring that both pupils and staff working within the music education sector, regardless of their location or social background, are afforded equitable opportunities;
  • that the Welsh Government should significantly increase the funding made available to local authorities for the purchasing of musical instruments and distribute it on a needs basis. This should be done as a matter of urgency and should be aimed at improving the situation in the short term, to cover the period before a national body is fully able to take responsibility for music services; and,
  • that the Welsh Government, via a National Action Plan for Music, should provide strategic direction to local authorities and schools on ways to integrate and encourage the teaching of less traditional forms of music; and encourages the establishment of rock and pop ensembles and national, rock and pop based, competitions.

Hitting the Right Note: Inquiry into funding for and access to music education
National Assembly for Wales Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee

Read the full report here.

Header photo: Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

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