Skip to content

2024 Election: Labour’s Pledge to Music Education

5th July 2024

With the confirmation that Labour will form the next government, the music education sector looks forward to working in partnership with the new government on delivering and expanding their manifesto promise to create a National Music Education Network. At the heart of this pledge is the idea that music should be a key part of a child’s education, and the ambition to ensure easy and equitable access to music making opportunities across England.

As the membership body for Music Education organisations across the United Kingdom, The UK Association for Music Education – Music Mark welcomes the focus from the new government on ways to enhance the existing music education provision in England and stands ready to continue our productive and long-standing relationship with the DfE under its new ministerial direction.

There are many existing websites and resources, such as CanDoMusic and Get Playing that currently direct parents to music making opportunities, and direct teachers to resources. Adding guidance on progression pathways and instrument repair can be easily achieved through combining national and local resources through our ongoing dialogue with the Hub Lead Organisations,  their consortium/key partners, and the National Youth Music Organisations. Whilst refining and consolidating existing resources will go some way to achieving Labour’s vision for music education, we believe that the key to ensuring equitable access is not just available provision but affordable provision!

In the last year Labour were in power previously – 2009/10 – they allocated £82.5m to English local authorities to spend on music education beyond the classroom.  Using the Bank of England Inflation Calculator this would today be worth £127m and that is without supporting any ambition to broaden and diversify provision. The actual allocated funding for 2024/25 is £76.1m – a figure which has been static for 5 years.  Music Mark is currently working with the independent think tank Demos on researching the real cost of delivering the ambition of the English National Plan for Music Education.  A report from that work will be published in the early autumn and we would urge the government to consider this as part of their Spending Review.  The existing infrastructure is under significant threat now due to the lack of realistic funding.  An uplift of the revenue grant to Music Hubs, which in turn will support grass roots music education provision, is vital.

There are many challenges which our new government will inherit and there are few quick fixes available to them. However, their manifesto promise of a National Music Education Network could be implemented through working in partnership with organisations like Music Mark who are ready and able to coordinate work through its national, regional and local networks, ensuring that partners are engaged and the music education ecosystem is working cohesively. Music Mark will always strive to work collaboratively with government to relay the views of our members and also to further the government aims for music education. But we would suggest that a more significant fix, now and longer term, is needed to truly ‘give all children the chance to take part in music, sport and the arts’ which will in turn support the creative industries sector – workforce and consumers – of tomorrow.