House of Lords Library

Music Education in Schools

Published Thursday, October 11, 2018

This House of Lords Library briefing provides background information further to the debate in the House of Lords on18 October 2018 on the state of music education in schools.

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This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the debate due to take place on 18 October 2018 in the House of Lords on the motion moved by Lord Black of Brentwood (Conservative) “that this House takes note of the state of music education in schools”.

In England, music education is part of the national curriculum for children in key stages 1, 2 and 3. Academies and free schools are not required to follow the national curriculum, however the Government has stated music should form part of a broad and balanced curriculum in these schools. Provision in schools in England is funded from a mix of sources including contributions from school budgets, local government funding and targeted central government funding. The allocation of funding provided to local authorities by central government in each local area is the responsibility of music education hubs. These bodies, established in 2012 by the Coalition Government, are made up of schools and other educational organisations, local authority music services as well as arts and music organisations. In the 2018/19 financial year, the Department for Education provided £75 million of ring-fenced funding to music education hubs.

Music hubs have also been tasked by the Government with meeting various targets for improving music education in schools. These include ensuring children have the opportunity to learn an instrument, to play in ensembles and enable young people to join choirs and other vocal ensembles. Music education hubs provided and supported whole-class ensemble teaching for musical instruments for 662,871 pupils in 2015/16 (8.73 percent of pupils nationally). Of these, 70.13 percent of pupils were receiving whole-class ensemble teaching for the first time.

Despite this funding, both the Coalition Government and the current Government have been criticised for not doing enough to support music education in schools. Organisations including the Musicians’ Union and Protect Music Education have argued the overall level of funding available has reduced, in part because of pressure on local government budgets. The introduction of the English Baccalaureate Certificate (Ebacc) has also been criticised because music GCSE is not included in the list of subjects used in this measure of attainment. In 2017, researchers at Sussex University found 59.7 percent of state schools believed the introduction of the Ebacc was having a negative impact on the provision and uptake of music in their school.

Lords Library notes LLN-2018-0103

Author: Edward Scott

Topics: Arts, Local authorities: education, Performing arts, Schools

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House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.