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Music Teaching during Covid-19

Guidance for musicians who teach, following updated Government guidance.

Last updated: 09 April 2021

The advice on this page covers:

The latest Government guidance on Covid-19 must always inform your decisions as to what activity is allowed and appropriate. Guidance is produced by the UK Government (for England) and by the devolved governments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Links to all relevant guidance are highlighted below.

The MU’s advice is for general guidance only. The MU can accept no liability for the consequences of decisions taken on the basis of our advice, including any illness or other adverse impact.

Your MU Public Liability Insurance is valid provided you, and any venue in which you are working, are following the current Government guidelines (and subject otherwise to the MU’s PLI policy terms and conditions).

Access to Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) depends on your employment status. Find out more on the Government’s website.

General guidance on vaccines and testing for Covid-19 can be found on a separate advice page.

Please contact your regional MU office if your education work has been affected and your particular circumstances have not been addressed by the announcements so far.

Teaching in England

Schools

Schools and colleges in England are now fully open during term time. Government guidance states that music should continue as part of the curriculum. We expect schools to welcome visiting music teachers as normal, subject to Covid-secure measures.

Government guidance for schools states that peripatetic teachers can move between settings and teach pupils individually or in groups. The same guidance offers extensive recommendations on how instrumental and vocal teaching should be managed, including by:

  • Maintaining social distancing, especially where teachers are moving between pupil ‘bubbles’, and taking extra care where pupils are mixing in different groups
  • Avoiding singing, wind and brass playing in larger groups unless there is sufficient space and ventilation (HSE guidance on this can be found on the Government’s website) or the activity can take place outdoors
  • Positioning pupils back-to-back or side-to-side to minimise aerosol transmission from wind/brass instruments and singing
  • Avoiding sharing instruments and equipment where possible and ensuring that cleaning and good hygiene are practised where sharing cannot be avoided

No performances should take place in front of audiences at the current time. Live streaming and recorded performances are permitted, subject to safeguarding and permissions.

If you teach in a school or college, request a copy of the setting’s or your employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment.

Private teaching

The latest guidance for out-of-school settings (covering music tuition) states that from 12 April, face-to-face activities can be offered to all children without restriction on the reasons for which they may attend. Teachers should ensure that their studios and activities are risked-assessed and Covid-secure, and they should follow the Government’s guidance on working in other people’s homes where necessary.

Where provision includes indoor musical groups, the out-of-school settings guidance states that providers should keep children in small groups of no more than 15 and at least one staff member. Groups of any size are permitted outdoors. If possible, all groups should consist of the same children each time they attend. Public performances are not yet permitted.

The latest guidance for FE colleges (covering independent training providers) states that students of all ages can participate in face-to-face learning. We understand this to include adult learners in private tuition where activities are appropriately risk-assessed and Covid-secure.

Because of the increased risk of Covid to older adults, we advise members to take extra care when working with adult learners, and to refer to the Government’s performing arts guidance for additional safety measures. Members may wish to consider whether some provision could remain online for now.

Teaching in Scotland

Schools

Schools in Scotland are open to all pupils after the Easter break.

The Scottish Government has updated its advice on reducing risk in schools, and there are several other supporting documents that are periodically updated, including guidance on face masks and distancing, guidance on PE, music and drama, and Education Scotland’s music guidelines. The following advice combines information taken from these various documents.

Peripatetic teachers are permitted to move between schools as long as appropriate mitigations are in place. However, wind, brass and organised singing remain barred in schools unless outdoors or for pupils who are preparing for assessments. We expect schools to facilitate online alternatives so that the pupils can continue to access all activities as schools return. Other instruments are permitted in schools.

The various Scottish Government guidance documents suggest that choirs and orchestras are not permitted, although there may be scope for limited group activities on permitted instruments with appropriate mitigations, or where activities can take place outdoors.

Members should speak to their school or employer about how they should deliver their teaching under the current guidelines. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate.

If you teach in a school, request a copy of the setting’s or your employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment.

Private teaching

No in-person private teaching is currently permitted in any part of Scotland apart from specified islands that are at a lower lockdown level. Private teaching should therefore remain online for everyone except teachers based on these islands. Further information can be found in the Scottish Government’s guidance on organised activities for children.

‘Non-essential’ work in other people’s homes should be allowed to resume in the last week of April. This should allow private teaching premises to reopen and in-person lessons to resume in private homes and studios.

However, the Government has stressed that all dates in the timetable for easing restrictions may be subject to change based on evidence and data relating to the pandemic. For the latest information, please see the Scottish Government’s website.

Teaching in Wales

Schools

Schools in Wales are open to all pupils after the Easter break.

Instrumental lessons and group sessions can take place in schools, subject to following the relevant guidance on the Welsh Government’s website in their pages on performing arts and education.

If you teach in a school, request a copy of the setting’s or your employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment.

Private teaching

Private instrumental lessons can take place in person in a workplace or business space that is permitted to be open, subject to following the relevant guidance (see below).

Music teachers should avoid delivering lessons in person in people’s homes where there is a reasonable alternative (e.g. teaching online). Group sessions for children are not currently permitted in person other than as part of formal education in schools.

Relevant Welsh Government information and guidance includes:

Teaching in Northern Ireland

Schools

Schools in Northern Ireland are open to all pupils after the Easter break.

The Government in Northern Ireland has not yet published any guidance on music teaching in schools after Easter, and we are seeking clarification on this. Meanwhile, we expect schools to advise on what activities will be permitted and what mitigations will need to be put in place for visiting music teachers who are permitted to return.

Members should speak to their school or employer about how they should deliver their teaching under the current guidelines. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate.

If you teach in a school, request a copy of the setting’s or your employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment.

Private teaching

The current guidance states that ‘Music lessons and private tutoring are permitted, as long as social distancing is maintained and there is no close contact’. We therefore advise members that private teaching can take place in person where appropriate Covid-secure measures and risk assessments are in place.

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