UK Music’s acting CEO Tom Kiehl has called for government action over music education in the wake of the publication of this year’s GCSE results.
Kiehl underlined the importance of an improved plan for music education in Britain, with the current version, which has been in place since 2011, due to expire this year.
The number of students opting to study music at GCSE level fell by 0.2% from 34,740 in 2019 to 34,665 this year. There was also a drop-off in A-level music.
Tom Kiehl said: “Congratulations to everyone on their GCSE results this year. I hope many young people will consider turning their passion for music into a career.”
“It has been an especially tough year for music teachers and students because of the social distancing restrictions required as a result of coronavirus,” he continued. “That is a challenge that is likely to remain even after it is considered safe for children to return to school. So, I would urge the government to do all they can to support school, teachers and students continue their music studies.
Kiehl said it “is now more important than ever that we have a new national plan for music education to help reverse the decline of music in state education.”
He described the 32% decline in A-level music over six years as “deeply worrying”.
Universal access to music within state education should be a top priority
“We need to work together to put in place a new plan to invest in our future,” he said. “Universal access to music within state education should be a top priority, alongside a broad-based music education within curriculum learning. The government should ensure that music in schools is incentivised through the OFSTED inspections framework. There should also be an expansion of rehearsal spaces, building on UK Music’s network of rehearsal spaces.”
UK Music figures show that 17% of music creators were educated at independent schools, compared to 7% across the population as a whole. Half of the children at independent schools received sustained music tuition, while the figure for state schools is much lower at 15%.
Dianne Widdison, national organiser for education and training at the Musicians’ Union and chair of the UK Music Education and Skills Committee said: “Music in schools was already under threat for many reasons before this year and we are already hearing of further cuts in provision from the next academic year, which is worrying.”
Music should not be a subject that is only available to those who are privileged enough to afford it
“We join with UK Music in urging the government to address the issues that face music teachers returning to work and also to now set out a timetable for the publication of the NPME which music educators across England have been waiting for,” Widdison added.
“Music should not be a subject that is only available to those who are privileged enough to afford it and it should be part of the offer for all children and young people as access to a broad and balanced curriculum.”