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Next Steps for England’s National Plan for Music Education Announced

The Government has released a summary of responses to its public consultation on music education and appointed an industry panel to guide the next National Plan for Music Education.

Photo ofChris Walters
By Chris Walters Published: 06 August 2021 | 5:33 PM Updated: 19 January 2022 | 2:14 PM
Photograph of a white board with music notation written on it, in a classroom setting.
“Proper support for the workforce must be included in the next NPME, and the MU will continue to push for this.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Government has today made two announcements about England’s next National Plan for Music Education (NPME). One is the publication of a summary of responses to its public consultation on music education, which will inform the new plan. The other is the setting up of an industry panel to help guide the writing of the plan.

Published in 2011, the NPME introduced the concept of music education hubs. There are approximately 120 hubs, which receive funding from the Department for Education via Arts Council England to deliver instrumental and vocal tuition in schools as well as out-of-school ensembles and other activities. Some hubs also support schools with curriculum teaching.

The NPME was due to be renewed in 2020, but this was pushed back due to the pandemic. The NPME and hubs are policy in England only, with the other UK nations responsible for their own music education policy.

Responses to the 2020 Consultation

The consultation ran in February 2020, before the pandemic and predating the publication of the Government’s Model Music Curriculum. There were 5,191 responses, summarised as follows:

  • People value music education and many praised their local hub
  • More can be done to raise awareness of young people’s entitlement to music education
  • A significant number of respondents had not heard of the NPME or hubs, including some school leaders
  • Opportunities must be available to all children, whatever their background or learning needs
  • Hubs can be inconsistent from area to area, and school music education varies a lot
  • Cost is a major barrier to participation for many families

Members can read the full summary of responses in full on the Government’s website.

Shortly after the responses were published, the Government announced that a “panel of experts” has been appointed to “shape the future of music education so that all pupils have the opportunity to sing, and be taught a musical instrument and make music with others.” The panel will guide the writing of the new NPME, to be published next year.

The success of the next NPME will depend on the funding attached to it

Chris Walters, the MU’s National Organiser for Education, said:

“The MU welcomes the publication of the consultation responses and the news that a new NPME is on its way, which suggests that music education hubs will continue to be funded as part of England’s music education strategy following the Government’s spending review this autumn. As the consultation responses show, many hubs have had a positive impact and deserve the chance to continue to develop and improve.

“However, the success of the next NPME will depend on the funding attached to it. At present there is insufficient funding to ensure that all children can continue with lessons after the initial period of whole-class instrumental tuition.

“In addition, limited funding has led to precarious teaching contracts, often with no pay for breaks, travel between schools or preparation, and with rates that are frequently too low for the level of skill needed to teach effectively.

“Tight budgets also mean that training and CPD for teachers can be thin on the ground. Proper support for the workforce must be included in the next NPME, and the MU will continue to push for this.”

Members of the panel

There is some overlap of panel members with the panel that steered the Model Music Curriculum. The panel members are:

  • Veronica Wadley (Baroness Fleet) (Chair) – Co-Founder and Chair of the London Music Fund, Council Member of Royal College of Music, Governor of Yehudi Menuhin School and Chair of the Expert Panel for the Model Music Curriculum
  • Bridget Whyte – CEO, The UK Association for Music Education – Music Mark
  • Carolyn Baxendale MBE – Head of Bolton Music Service (Greater Manchester Music Education Hub)
  • Catherine Barker – Head of Music and Performing Arts, United Learning and President-Elect, Music Teachers’ Association
  • Darren Henley – Chief Executive, Arts Council England (ACE)
  • David Stanley BEM – Chief Executive and Founder, The Music Man Project and UK Government’s Arts and Culture Disability and Access Ambassador
  • Ed Watkins – Director of Music, West London Free School
  • Jamie Njoku-Goodwin – Chief Executive, UK Music
  • Jonathan Badyal – Head of Communications, Universal Music UK
  • Naveed Idrees OBE – Headteacher, Feversham Primary Academy
  • Phil Castang – Director of Creative Learning and Engagement, Bristol Beacon and Chair of the Music Education Council
  • Sarah Alexander OBE – Chief Executive and Artistic Director, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
  • Simon Toyne – Executive Director of Music, David Ross Education Trust
  • Dr Steven Berryman – Director of Arts, Culture and Community, for the Odyssey Trust for Education
  • YolanDa Brown – Musician/Broadcaster

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