The National Plan for Music Education states that schools should provide at least “one hour of…

June 27, 2022, 1:29 p.m. | Updated: June 27, 2022, 4:34 PM

A group trumpet lesson in a primary school.

Photo: Aliyah

The updated national plan for music education sets out the government’s ambition to “improve musical opportunities for all children, regardless of circumstance, need or geography”.

The UK government’s Department for Education has released its new national plan for music education in England, postponed for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan was developed in consultation with music teachers, young people in music education and beyond, more than 5,000 of whom responded to the government’s call for evidence to inform proposals for an updated national plan. When the responses were published in 2021, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) said the findings were made for “sobering reading”.

In the new 88-page “The Power of Music to Change Lives”, new investments were announced to help champion music education.

New funding of £25million will be made available to help schools purchase musical instruments and equipment. This includes suitable instruments for students with special educational needs and disabilities.

Schools will also be asked to offer “at least one hour of music programme” per week, and outside of school time an additional commitment of £79 million has been made by the plan, each year until 2025, to the Music Hubs program. .

Since its release on Saturday, June 25, many national music organizations have come forward to share their first positive thoughts on the highly anticipated plan.

Read more: Underprivileged children in Wales will receive free access to musical instruments

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said: “The updated national plan has taken years to work on and we are pleased that it has been released today. ISM will take the time to forensically review the document and listen to teachers’ views. However, on first reading, there seems to be a lot that we can welcome and that our members will be happy to see included. »

The first objective of the new plan is that all children and young people receive a high quality musical education in their early years and in schools.

Second, the plan is for all music teachers to work in partnership, with the needs and interests of children and young people at heart.

Third, it states that all children and young people with musical interests and talents should have the opportunity to progress, including professionally.

Accessibility and inclusion are notably at the center of this plan, in what some call more holistic promises than the plan’s predecessor – a 55-page document entitled “The Importance of Music”, which was published in 2011 as the very first national plan. for music education.

Chris Cobb, Managing Director of ABRSM, Classic FM’s partner in music education, said: “The new plan clearly recognizes the challenges and opportunities facing music education while reflecting the trends and priorities that all people in the sector know to be important.

“It is encouraging to see a real commitment to inclusion, progression and sustainability, from early childhood to higher education, something that matches our own ambition to enable more people to discover the joy of music by getting involved and finding a personal path to progress. ”

Among the resources available under the plan is ‘Classroom 200’, a free online resource for teachers working with students up to the age of 14, worldwide.

Based on the model music curriculum that was released by the Department of Education last year, on which the updated plan builds, Classroom 200 offers 200 music recordings in a range of styles, each with its own plan. courses. The music ranges from Berlioz to Bob Marley, and from Rutter to Rag’n’Bone Man.

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, a lifetime peer in the House of Lords as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Arts, told Classic FM: “A great music education shouldn’t be the preserve of a select few. In addition to sparking a passion for music or a career in music, it can give young people the opportunity to express themselves, explore their creativity and improve their mental well-being.

“This plan will enhance musical opportunities for all children, no matter who they are or where they live, and support them as they navigate the subject beyond the classroom – whether as audiences or performers.”

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin welcomed the updated plan’s commitment to investment, saying: “Continued investment in music education is vital if we are to unlock the huge creative potential of young people and increase opportunities across the country.

“Music is a national asset that brings billions to the economy, improves our health and well-being and strengthens our global reputation – and it’s all underpinned by a strong talent pool. A thorough musical education also brings huge benefits children, whatever they do later in life, and it is in our national interest to have a music literate society.

The Musicians’ Union cautiously welcomed the plan, with national organizer Chris Walters saying the plan shows ‘ministers understand what high quality music education for all children and young people could look like’.

However, Walters added, “The plan is just the beginning, and we will be closely monitoring the development and rollout of its key initiatives. Ultimately, the proof of its value will be in the outcomes for children and young people, and it is vital that these are monitored effectively. »

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