• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

The Government faces calls to ensure music education is part of the catch-up curriculum after up to 10% of schools stopped teaching it in 2020.

An already-announced £109m arts premium could help ensure access to music education

Bob Glennan

Music must be central to schools' catch-up curriculum, unions are warning, after teaching declined sharply last year.

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has called on the Government to put music education “front and centre” in English schools as pupils return.

He said a renewed focus on teaching music in schools was needed because of the lockdowns, with many schools stopping music lessons altogether during the pandemic.


“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on children’s learning and music education has been amongst the hardest hit.

“It’s vital that all children have a good musical education – not just because of the positive benefits on other subjects, or the important mental health and wellbeing impacts, but because the UK’s world-leading music industry relies on a strong talent pipeline.

“That pipeline has been badly damaged over the past year, and so it’s imperative we now do what we can to protect and strengthen it.”

An Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) survey published in December found that one in ten schools weren’t teaching music due to Covid-19, while 68% of primary school teachers and 39% of secondary school teachers reported reduced provision in the autumn term.

An Ofsted report published in the same month confirmed music education provision had fallen significantly as many schools prioritised English and maths.

'Deliver on your commitment'

Njoku-Goodwin said it was now crucial for the Government to deliver on its 2019 manifesto commitment for an Arts Premium for secondary school pupils worth £109m per year.

It signalled this would take effect by September 2021, offering each school an extra £25,000.

Njoku-Goodwin said the Arts Premium would help schools deliver the music education children deserve.

Last year, the Government committed to “a broad and balanced curriculum in all subjects” when it published plans for the September reopening of schools.

At the time, this allayed some fears that music education would be sidelined. However, the realities of teaching in schools over the autumn fell short.

The current guidance, first published in February, says schools in England “should continue teaching music, dance and drama as part of your school curriculum, especially as this builds pupils’ confidence and supports their wellbeing”.

Recovery package

While teachers are still waiting for details, a £302m Recovery Premium for reopening schools emphasises summer provision and additional clubs and activities.

The Government’s support package to enable children and young people, announced last month, equates to an average of £6,000 extra for every primary school and £22,000 per secondary school.

Designed to support students whose education has education has suffered during the pandemic, it could support music and arts education.

Dr Oliver Morris, UK Music’s Director of Education and Skills, said it was crucial that music remains a part of school life "no matter what a pupil’s socio-economic or geographical situation" is.

“We must ensure Covid doesn’t sound the death knell for music in schools and we urge the Government to act decisively to protect it."

Now was the time for the Government to demonstrate its support for teachers, school leaders, music services and hubs and community music organisations, Morris added.