UK Music boss Michael Dugher has called on the Chancellor to use his Budget to order an “urgent review” into music education in state schools.
In a letter addressed to Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of the Budget on October 29, former Music Week cover star Dugher warned of “potentially catastrophic consequences” for the future of British music if the Government fails to act.
Dugher said that the decline in the take-up of music in state schools threatens the industry’s talent pool.
The UK business contributes an annual £4.4 billion to the economy, including rising exports of £2.5 billion.
UK Music, who announced a reshuffle of its team earlier this week, published the Securing Our Talent Pipeline report last month. It found that 17% of music creators were educated at fee-paying schools compared with 7% across the whole population.
Half of children at independent schools receive sustained music tuition, while the figure for state schools is markedly lower at 15%.
The report uncovered 7.4% drop in the number of pupils studying music, despite overall GCSE entries increasing by 0.2 per cent in the 2017/18 academic year. The number of schools offering music A-Level has fallen by more than 15% since 2016, with Music Technology A-level declining by 32% over the same period.
Ensuring children from all backgrounds have access to music in our state education system is critical
“Ensuring children from all backgrounds have access to music in our state education system is critical to the continued success of the British music industry,” said Dugher in the letter.
“Yet our recent report revealed growing evidence of a spiral of decline when it comes to participation in music in our schools. This is putting our talent pipeline at risk and potentially jeopardising the significant contribution music makes.”
The letter continued: “We fully accept that the music industry has to step up and play our part in supporting the talent pipeline.
“But the Government can plays a vital role too. An urgent review into the funding of music in our state education system could help identify where the problems currently are and what we need to do together to address them.”
Dugher said failure to act immediately would “risk looking back in years to come and reflecting on a period when music in our schools was allowed to wither on the vine”.
Ed Sheeran was the biggest-selling artist in the world in 2017, and he too has raised concerns about cuts in music education.
“I benefited hugely from state school music, as I’m sure many other UK musicians have,” Sheeran said. “If you keep cutting the funding for arts you’re going to be damaging one of Britain’s best and most lucrative exports.”
Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and Andrew Lloyd Webber have also spoken out against cuts to music education.