UK Music CEO, Michael Dugher, has called on the Chancellor to use his forthcoming Budget, to be published on 29 October 2018, to order an ‘urgent review’ of music education in UK state schools.
In his letter to Philip Hammond, Dugher warned of of ‘potentially catastrophic consequences’ for the future of music enjoyed by millions in the UK if the Government failed to act.
The UK music industry contributes £4.4 billion to the economy every year, including rising exports of £2.5 billion.
However, Dugher warned that an ‘alarming’ decline in the take-up of music in state schools threatened the talent pipeline which nurtures the diverse ecosystem of our music industry.
The challenges triggered by the decline of music in our schools in UK were highlighted in UK Music’s Securing Our Talent Pipeline report, published last month.
The report’s findings include:
- 17 per cent of music creators were educated at fee-paying schools, compared with seven per cent across the population as a whole
- 50 per cent of children at independent schools receive sustained music tuition, while the figure for state schools is only 15 per cent.
- a 7.4 per cent drop in the number of pupils taking Music despite overall GCSE entries increasing by 0.2 per cent in the 2017/18 academic year
- the number of schools offering Music A-Level has fallen by more than 15 per cent in the last two years, with Music Technology A-level declining by 32 per cent over the same period
In his letter to the Chancellor, Dugher said:
‘Ensuring children from all backgrounds have access to music in our state education system is critical to the continued success of the British music industry.
‘Yet our recent report also revealed growing evidence of a spiral of decline when it comes to participation in music in our schools. This is putting our talent pipeline at risk and potentially jeopardising the significant contribution music makes to UK plc.
‘We fully accept that the music industry has to step up and play our part in supporting the talent pipeline.
‘But the Government can play a vital role too. An urgent Government review into the funding of music in our state education system could help identify where the problems currently are and what we need to do together to address them.
‘If we fail to act now, we risk looking back in years to come and reflecting on a period when music in our schools was allowed to wither on the vine, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the cultural and the economic contribution music makes to our country.’
Ed Sheeran, the biggest-selling artist in the world last year, has raised concerns about music education cuts, saying:
‘I benefited hugely from state school music, as I’m sure many other UK musicians have. If you keep cutting the funding for arts, you’re going to be damaging one of Britain’s best and most lucrative exports.’
He is supported by a range of artists, musicians and composers from Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the award-winning cellist who played at Prince Harrry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, to the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has complained about ‘ludicrous’ cuts to music education.