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New structures will emerge for music education and funding, but curriculum issues remain

A National Plan for Music Education will be drawn up to determine how funding for music education is allocated across England, and a national funding formula will be devised to even out inequalities in music education funding to local authorities. These and other measures designed to ensure that all children and young people have equal access to quality music education are outlined in a response by Education Secretary Michael Gove and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey to the much-anticipated findings of the Henley Review of music education (see AP229).

Released this morning, the report makes 36 recommendations covering a wide range of controversial issues, including the place of music education in the National Curriculum, music teaching in schools, access to instrumental tuition, the role of Ofsted in sustaining quality music education, procurement of musical instruments and the role of ACE-funded arts organisations in creating live music-making and performance opportunities for children and young people. Terms of reference for a further review – also by Darren Henley – are being now drawn up to look at cultural education more widely.

The £82.5m of funding from Department for Education (DfE) allocated to music education this year will continue in 2011/12, and will be distributed to Local Authorities. Funding for the Music and Dance Scheme, which enables exceptionally talented young people to have access to the best specialist music and dance training alongside a good academic education, will also continue, and Arts Council England (ACE) and Youth Music will be working with the DfE to agree future funding priorities for the National Youth Music Organisations.

Partnership working is a key theme running through the report, and a new structure is proposed for distributing ring-fenced cash for music education: schools, Local Authority Music Services, ACE-funded organisations and others will be invited to work together to create Music Education Hubs in each Local Authority area. According to Gove, “it is a system that makes sure that the best mix of organisations accesses the funding available for an area and is then held to account for the services provided”. A lead organisation – most likely a Local Authority Music Service, but potentially an ACE client organisation, will be directly funded to undertake the leading role in each Hub. One of the motivations behind the Hubs is cost-saving, and “ensuring that public funding is targeted primarily at providing front line services and that administration and management costs are kept to a minimum”. The Hubs will be encouraged to make back-office cost savings, which “could include the merger of senior management and support functions over a number of Local Authority areas”. Successful Local Authority Music Services will be encouraged to offer Music Education in neighbouring areas.

Although the report recommends that “the provision of music education should remain a statutory requirement as part of the National Curriculum”, Gove refused to pre-empt the outcome of the ongoing National Curriculum Review consultation, but confirmed that the Government will “look at how we can extend the space for all students to pursue music and arts qualifications”. Singing is highlighted as being of key importance for all children, and Sing Up, the National Singing Programme is to be supported for a further year “whilst working towards a position of self-sustainability”. The school experiences provided by flagship cultural organisations, orchestras and community musicians, are recognised as providing “truly inspirational experiences which benefit thousands of children every year”, but Henley calls for their work to “link more closely to curriculum objectives”.

ACE has issued a warm welcome to the Henley Review, and indicated its continued commitment to encouraging “dynamic partnerships between our funded organisations and schools to support focused learning”. From April 2011 onwards ACE will be working strategically with a small number of organisations to “streamline and simplify the delivery of arts, including music, in schools”. Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said: “The Review makes the key finding that ‘the provision of Music Education should remain a statutory requirement as part of the National Curriculum,’ which we heartily endorse. We also call on the government to act on the Review’s recommendation that music should be included in the English Baccalaureate, something the government has so far failed to do, thereby threatening the place of music in secondary schools.”