A national plan for music teaching in England is to be introduced in summer 2012. The plan aims to give every child, regardless of where they live or how well off they are, the chance to learn to play a musical instrument.
Local ‘hubs’ will be created to provide music education, but will have to do so on vastly reduced funding. Currently, £77.5m is allocated for music tuition by the Department for Education, via local authorities. The funding will drop to £75m from April 2012, £63m the following year and to £58m in 2014—2015.
Under the plan, an extra £1m will be devoted to extending In Harmony, a music-education scheme in Norwich, Liverpool and Lambeth inspired by the Venezuelan El Sistema — a radical social-inclusion project in which children from the poorest backgrounds are given intensive music education to help them escape the poverty trap (pictured).
Possibly the most significant change is the decision to replace local authority music services with hubs. Existing music services as well as other suitably qualified organisations or venues can apply to become hubs — its expected that professional orchestras and ensembles in the area will be involved in their local hub. The restructuring means that most children learning instruments, whether inside or outside the classroom, will do so through their local music hub.
The funding regime has been reformed so that it is now decided on a ‘per pupil’ basis, with weighting for deprived areas. Aiming towards a fairer regime, some areas such as Manchester will see funding for music education drop as a result. Applications to become hubs will be assessed by Arts Council England, the arts funding body, which until now has not been involved in administering funds from the Department for Education.
Applications to provide hubs close on 17 February, with announcements of the successful contenders in April.
Education secretary, Michael Gove said: ‘All pupils should have the opportunity to enjoy and play music. However, for far too long, music education has been patchy across the country. Pupils from the poorest backgrounds have suffered most from this situation, creating a musical divide. The national plan for music will deliver a music education system that encourages everyone, whatever their background, to enjoy music and help those with real talent to flourish as brilliant musicians.’
Published on 30 November 2011