The Department of Education (DfE) has announced £79m of funding for music education hubs across England for the 2020-21 financial year. This total reflects an increase of about 5% compared to 2019/20.
While the extension of the government’s financial commitment to music education has been welcomed, comments on social media have expressed concern that the announcement’s timing – coinciding with the dissolution of the London Parliament in preparation for the general election on 12 December – smacks of electioneering by the incumbent Tory party.
Music education hubs were set up in England 2012 as part of the National Plan for Music Education, building on the work of local authority music services. Hubs are partnerships of local organisations which deliver a range of music and music education activities in schools and in other settings, part-funded by grants administered on behalf of the government by Arts Council England.
The current National Plan for Music Education runs until 31 March 2020. The DfE has not yet announced details of any extension or renewal.
Diane Widdison, the Musicians’ Union’s National Organiser for Education and Training, said:
‘It is good news for our members, many of whom teach for music education hubs, that hub funding has been renewed for another year. With only five months’ notice before the renewed funding period is due to begin, many hubs were already drawing up plans to function on much lower budgets. This has been a waste of precious time and resources.’
Music Mark, the national umbrella body for hubs, said that the organisation ‘is delighted that the announcement has been made before the government goes into the period of ‘purdah’ in the lead up to the general election’.
Bridget Whyte, Music Mark CEO, said:
‘The delay in getting news of continued funding has been extremely stressful for the organisations who lead and are part of Music Education Hubs across the country. There have been some who were in the process of preparing redundancy consultation processes.’
Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, which lobbied the government with Music Mark to extend hubs’ funding, said:
‘The ISM welcomes the Government’s long-awaited announcement of approximately £79million funding for music education hubs.
‘There is no doubt the Government is committed to music education. Therefore as a matter of urgency we call on government to reform the EBacc which continues to have a detrimental impact on music and the other creative subjects in our schools. There is a huge amount of research, not least the APPG for Music Education’s State of the Nation report which shows that music is no longer taught at Key Stage 3 in more than 50% of state-funded secondary schools. In other schools it has disappeared altogether.
‘We therefore urge the Government to add a creative subject to the EBacc, in line with the recommendations from both the Durham Commission and the CBI in the last few weeks.’