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Music Teaching during Covid-19

Guidance for musicians who teach, following updated Government guidance.

Last updated: 25 February 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

Schools

Schools and colleges in England will reopen for all year groups on 8 MarchGovernment guidance states that music should continue as part of the curriculum. Until 8 March, schools and colleges will remain open to vulnerable children and the children of key workers only.

If you are returning 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. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment.

Government 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). These restrictions may be relaxed over time and we will advise members if so.

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.

It is possible that some instrumental and vocal teaching in schools may not immediately resume in the week of 8 March. However, we would expect schools, colleges and music education hubs to support a reasonable transition from online to school-based teaching without a break.

Private teaching

The latest guidance for out-of-school settings (covering music tuition) states that from 8 March, face-to-face activities can be offered for vulnerable children and young people. In addition, face-to-face activities can be offered to all children where activities are:

  • reasonably necessary to enable their parents and carers to work, search for work, undertake education or training, or attend a medical appointment or address a medical need, or attend a support group
  • being used by electively home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education
  • for the purposes of obtaining a regulated qualification, meeting the entry requirements for an education institution, or to undertake exams and assessments

This means that in-person music tuition can be offered to all children as long as they are working towards exams, entry auditions or other assessments. Teachers should ensure that their studios are risked-assessed and Covid-secure, and they should follow the Government’s guidance on working in other people’s homes where necessary.

The latest guidance for FE colleges (covering independent training providers) states that all students will be able to return to on-site education from 8 March. This includes adult learners, although the guidance suggests that you should continue to judge the right balance between on-site and remote delivery for adults.

As set out in the COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 guidance, from 29 March, and in line with when schools close for the Easter holidays, out-of-school settings will be able to offer outdoor provision to all children, without restrictions on the purpose for which they may attend. The guidance states the ambition to allow all indoor and outdoor activities without restriction from 12 April.

Teaching in Scotland

Schools

Schools in Scotland reopened on 22 February for children in years P1, P2 and P3 (in addition to vulnerable children and the children of key workers). A small number of senior phase secondary pupils have also been permitted to return.

These reopenings are part of Phase 1 of Scotland’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): Strategic Framework update - February 2021. The other phases (for which dates are tentative only) relate to schools as follows:

  • Phase 2 – 15 March. School Years 4-7 return. Some blended learning for secondary pupils with part-time school attendance.
  • Phase 3 – 5 April. Schools fully reopen.

We expect the Scottish Government to update its guidance on school music to clarify what will be permitted as more year groups return and restrictions ease. For now, we advise members to follow the existing guidance, which states that peripatetic music teaching is allowed in schools where there is no alternative, but that alternatives (e.g. teaching online) are preferred. We understand that wind, brass and singing are still not permitted in schools unless outdoors.

Members should speak to their school or employer (e.g. music service) about how they should deliver their teaching. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate.

If you are asked to provide teaching in schools for those children who do attend, 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. We understand that more information on this will be given in mid-March.

Teaching in Wales

Schools

Schools in Wales reopened for pupils aged 3 to 7 on 22 February. Colleges for some vocational students also opened on this date. Subject to confirmation, older primary pupils plus secondary Years 11 and 13 will return on 15 March, with other secondary pupils due to return after the Easter holidays.

Our understanding is that the current Welsh Government guidance does not prevent school music lessons from taking place. However, given the limited number of pupils who have returned to schools, music lessons are likely to remain online in the short term. Members should speak to their school or employer (e.g. music service) about how this should work. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate.

Some members may be asked to provide teaching in schools for those children who do attend. In this instance, 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 teaching should remain online and should only take place in person if it is reasonably necessary and there is no practical alternative. Further information can be found in the Welsh Government’s guidance on visiting people in private homes at alert level 4, as well as its advice on taking reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and working in other people’s homes.

We will advise members when restrictions around private tuition are eased.

Teaching in Northern Ireland

Schools

Schools remain closed (except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers) until 5 March. On 8 March, primary school pupils in P1 to P3 will return to full-time face-to-face teaching. Pupils in Years 12 to 14 will return to full-time face-to-face teaching on 22 March.

We await guidance from the Government in Northern Ireland on which musical activities will be permitted in schools when they reopen more fully. For now, school music lessons will mostly remain online. Members should speak to their school or employer (e.g. music service) about how this should work. Self-employed teachers should speak to schools or parents as appropriate.

Some members may be asked to provide teaching in schools for those children who do attend. In this instance, 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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