A-level music education in schools could “disappear” in just over a decade


A-level music education in schools could disappear altogether in just over a decade, new research shows.

According to researchers at Birmingham City University, the decline in access to musical qualifications has been accelerated by cuts in funding to local and central governments.

They are now warning that qualifying could disappear entirely by 2033, cutting off a whole pipeline of future talent from the UK.

The findings from lead researchers Dr Adam Whittaker and Professor Martin Fautley have now led music academics and music industry professionals to call for urgent intervention and a package of political and financial measures to support the UK state music education system.

Dr Whittaker said: “We know from the trends in A-level adoption over the past few years that the number of students taking A-level music has fallen to a level of great concern.

“We are now in a position where there are areas of the country with very limited access to A-level music or, in some cases, no access at all.

“Children cannot choose a diploma that is not offered to them. What should a child who wants to take an A-level music course do if the nearest school offering it is 30 miles away? We need A-level music and other specialized subjects to be offered in a range of schools across a local authority area.

“This is important because A-level music can help young musicians pursue higher education in music and their future careers, including as the next generation of music educators. “

In their research, available here, Dr Whittaker and Professor Fautley assert that “Those who cannot afford to finance private instrumental studies are unlikely to have sufficient income to pay for independent tuition, even if a scholarship supports them in a future. to a greater or lesser extent … the current rates of decline in entries in recent years show that A-level music will likely have no entry by 2033 if the current rate of decline continues in a linear fashion.

In the report, it was also revealed that independent schools accounted for a disproportionate number of A-level music admissions compared to national entry statistics – which could lead to a talent sinkhole.

Their research also confirmed that the proportion of students taking music training in the Midlands has fallen to just 1% following a drop in the number of schools and colleges offering the optional course – in line with national adoption.

Calling on the government for change, UK Music Director-General Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “There has been a worrying decline in the number of young people studying music at A level in recent years.

“Unless action is taken to reverse this trend, there is a real risk of serious damage to the talent pool on which the music industry depends.

“Music education enriches the lives of countless children and young people, but it also brings enormous cultural, economic and social benefits to the UK.

“At UK Music we continue to discuss with government and education officials how we can ensure that children of all backgrounds have the best possible chance to study music, which is one of the our great national assets. “

Professor Martin Fautley added, “We have been concerned about the decline in the number of A-level music for some time. Music is an important part of the lives of many of our young people, but fewer and fewer of them are choosing higher education while in school.

“With the growing fragmentation of the education system that this government has overseen, there is a very real possibility that many of our young people will simply not have the opportunity to participate in this study, even if they wish. “

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