The MU has welcomed the government’s announcement that music education hubs will continue to receive funding for another year – while voicing doubts about the government’s broader policy around hubs and music education.
£79 million of central government funding will be given to music education hubs during 2020-21. This is building on the £76 million spent on them during 2019-20 and similar funding allocations running back to 2012, when hubs were first introduced as part of the government’s National Plan for Music Education.
Diane Widdison, the MU’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.”
But she added, “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.”
Teachers on precarious contracts will lose out
Part of the £79 million settlement is a £2 million allocation towards teachers’ pensions – but the majority of members who contact the MU about their work for hubs are either ineligible for pensions, or unaware whether they have a pension or not.
This is due to a wide variety of contracts used by hubs, said Widdison, “Despite high expectations for music education hubs as enshrined in the National Plan for Music Education, there is no minimum entitlement for hub teachers, who are placed on freelance, worker or employed contracts, often at the individual hub’s whim.
“This means that the £2 million towards teachers’ pensions will only benefit those who happen to be on employed contracts, while many teachers on more precarious contracts will lose out.”
Inherent contradictions in the government’s music education policy
As well as calling for better terms for hub teachers, the MU continues to point out the contradictions inherent in the government’s music education policy.
“Funding hubs is one thing,” said Widdison, “but the government’s flagship EBacc performance measure, which excludes the arts, has led to many secondary school music departments closing down, in turn causing plummeting GCSE and A level music numbers.
“The government would get much better value for the money it spends on hubs were it not simultaneously undermining school music.”
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