UK Music calls on government to introduce new plan for music education after GCSE results

"Universal access to music within state education should be a top priority."

UK Music has renewed calls for the government to introduce a National Plan for Music Education, after GCSE results were published today (August 20).

Tom Kiehl, the acting CEO of the trade body, said a major plan for music education was “more important than ever” and said it could help sustain the pipeline of future talent being developed in the UK.

His comments came as the number of people taking GCSE Music took a slight drop by 0.2 percent from 34,740 in 2019 to 34,665 this year. This in turn followed a bigger decline in the number of students who have taken A-level music.

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Mr 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.

“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.

“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.

“Over the past six years, the number of people studying A-level music has declined by a deeply worrying 32 per cent. We need to work together to put in place a new Plan to invest in our future.”

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He added: “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.”

The government are yet to respond, but announced earlier this year that music industry experts will help to shape the future of music education in the UK.

Dianne Widdison, National Organiser for Education and Training at the Musicians’ Union and Chair of the UK Music Education and Skills Committee, added: “Of our 32,000 members, many of them work across the whole of the music education sector and we know what challenges there have been for them during these last few months.

“We have supported our members in moving their teaching online, where appropriate so that they could continue contributing to their students’ music education at this important time when so many students have had their education halted.

“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.

“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.”

This year saw a record amount of GCSE pass rates, with almost four fifths (78.8 per cent) of results were handed pass marks, up from 69.9 per cent in 2019.

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