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Music Teaching during Covid-19

Guidance for musicians who teach, following updated Government guidance.

Last updated: 20 January 2021

The advice on the 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 PayUniversal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) depends on your employment status. Find out more on the Government’s website.

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

England moved into a national lockdown on 5 January. This will be reviewed on 15 February, although the government has suggested that it may last beyond this date.

Schools

Schools and colleges are closed until after February half term (except to vulnerable children and the children of key workers). Music lessons in schools will mostly move online and members should speak to their school or employer (e.g. music education hub) about how this will work. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate to make alternative arrangements.

On 7 January the Government issued new guidance for schools which advises that music teaching is still permitted in schools where these are open to limited pupils. On 8 January it issued similar advice for FE colleges. If you are asked to 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.

The new guidance states that peripatetic teachers can move between settings and teach pupils individually or in groups, although groups should take place outdoors if possible. Singing, wind and brass playing should not take place in larger groups at all (although 'larger' is not defined). If teaching indoors, observe social distancing, avoid face-to-face positioning, and use ventilation (HSE guidance on this can be found on the Government’s website).

No performances should take place in front of audiences. Care should be taken to clean equipment and minimise sharing.

Private teaching

On 8 January the Government updated its guidance for out-of-school settings and FE colleges (covering independent training providers). These documents stipulate that only vulnerable children or the children of key workers are permitted to access out-of-school provision and tuition in person. All other pupils should therefore be taught online.

The Department for Education has issued guidance on which children are vulnerable, which members are advised to read if in doubt.

The Department for Education has advised the MU that where graded music exams are not cancelled, rehearsals with an accompanist prior to the exam are permitted to take place at the exam centre.

Rehearsals in a different location can only take place in person if the candidate is either the child of a critical worker or a vulnerable child. Support by the tutor during rehearsal (if the tutor is not the accompanist) should take place online unless this is impossible, in which case tutors may enter the child’s family home (following the guidance on working in other people’s homes).

Teaching in Scotland

On Tuesday 5 January, mainland Scotland moved to a temporary lockdown with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes. Some islands will remain at the previous Level 3 restrictions.

Schools

School closures apply to the whole of Scotland until the end of January (except to vulnerable children and the children of key workers) with the possibility of extended closures beyond this. Music lessons in schools should move online and members should speak to their school or employer (e.g. music service) about how this will work. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate to make alternative arrangements.

A small minority of members may be asked to provide teaching in schools for those children who do attend. In this instance, ask to see a copy of the school or employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer.

Private teaching

Face-to-face teaching is only permitted at Levels 0-3, which means no private teaching is permitted in any part of Scotland in person except those islands that are at Level 3.

The Scottish government has updated its guidance on organised activities for children, which states that drama, music, singing and private tuition are not permitted indoors. Members are therefore advised to move all private teaching online.

Teaching in Wales

Level 4 restrictions have been in place across Wales since 19 December. These measures are likely to be in place until the end of January at least.

Schools

Unless transmission rates decrease significantly, schools and colleges in Wales will work remotely until February half term (except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers).Teaching that would normally take place in these settings should move online. Members should speak to their school or employer (e.g. music service) about how this will work. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate to make alternative arrangements.

A small minority of members may be asked to provide teaching in schools for those children who do attend. In this instance, ask to see a copy of the school or employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer.

Private teaching

Private teaching should move online, although we are advised by the Welsh government that it can take place in person if it is reasonably necessary and there is no reasonably practical alternative.

If this applies to you we recommend reading the Welsh government’s guidance on visiting people in private homes at alert level 4, as well as the advice on taking reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and working in other people’s homes.

Teaching in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is currently under lockdown until 6 February. Additional ‘stay at home’ measures are in place from 8 January.

Schools

Schools are colleges are closed until after February half term (except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers). Music lessons in schools should move online and members should speak to their school or employer (e.g. music service) about how this will work. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate to make alternative arrangements.

A small minority of members may be asked to provide teaching in schools for those children who do attend. In this instance, ask to see a copy of the school or employer’s risk assessment and discuss any concerns with your employer.

Private teaching

The latest guidance states that ‘Music lessons and private tutoring are permitted, as long as social distancing is maintained and there is no close contact’. This guidance could be changed or updated at short notice, so we advise members to be prepared to teach online if necessary. We will update members as soon as any more information is available.

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