Local authorities will no longer be at the heart of decision-making on music education provision

The first ever national plan for music education, ‘The Importance of Music’, reveals that all children aged 5 to 18 are to be given the chance to sing, learn a musical instrument and perform as part of an ensemble or choir. Jointly produced by the Department for Education and the DCMS following a review of music education by Darren Henley (AP232), the plan states that each child will be given the chance to learn to play a musical instrument for at least a term and ideally for a year. This new agenda for music education will be delivered by music education ‘hubs’ which will build on the work of existing local authority music services and radically change the way music is delivered to schools. They will aim to improve the consistency of music education around the country and will be held accountable for this.

A new national funding formula is being set up to distribute music education funding across the UK on a ‘per pupil’ basis, with a weighting for deprivation. Government funding for music education this year is £82.5m, but over the next three years music education will be funded to the tune of only £77m, £65m and £60m: £171m will go to the music education hubs which will typically consist of a number of organisations working in partnership to align existing music activities at local authorities and local music organisations, and draw together resources. An open application process has been launched by Arts Council England (ACE) for the running of the hubs, which will be expected to be up and running by September 2012.

Other announcements in the music education plan include the national roll-out of the ‘In Harmony programme’, currently running in Liverpool, London and Norwich and based on the Venezuela’s El Sistema scheme. The programme provides intensive instrumental training to children from deprived backgrounds, teaching them to play in ensembles and orchestras. The Government will provide £500,000 a year for this, again through ACE, and an additional £500,000 matched funding will enable the programme to be extended across the country. Also, a new music teaching module is to give primary teachers extra skills to teach music; continued funding of £500,000 per year to the National Youth Music Organisations fund will be matched by the Arts Council England currently via Youth Music; and there is to be continued support for the Music and Dance Scheme, which provides money for exceptionally gifted young people to attend the specialist music and dance schools.

Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM and author of the Review of Music Education in England, said: "There's a great deal of really excellent music provision across the country, but I did consistently hear two very clear messages when I was carrying out my Review. The first was the need for an over-arching strategy for the subject and the second was the requirement to eradicate patchiness in provision. The new National Plan for Music Education is a major step towards tackling both these issues”

1. The national plan for music is available here
2. The Henley Review is available to download.
3. The Government's response to the Henley Review is available to download.