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Bridget’s Blog: Are we nearly there yet?

1st July 2024

Bridget Whyte CEO

As we head towards the summer holidays I have to say it’s been quite a year! It’s been packed full of twists and turns which have challenged us as we continue to champion and provide a great music education for the children and young people across the UK. Ongoing financial challenges for parents, schools and the wider music education ecology have had an impact, and change has been a constant companion to those challenges. However, despite these circumstances the musical outcomes of all the great work everyone has achieved have to be a reward, don’t they? 

On the 21st June, we ran a ‘mini-campaign’ linked to World Music Day. We wanted to celebrate the end of an era, the end of Music Education Hubs across England. Of course, the hub concept remains from September 2024 with a revised structure, and we hope that many, if not all, of the leads and partners of the current Music Education Hubs will be part of the new Music Hub network. However, this is a moment we wanted to mark, to champion all the great work that has taken place over the past 12 years since the Music Education Hub partnerships were created to deliver the first English National Plan for Music Education.     

#CelebrateMusicEdHubs, Stats to celebrate: England's Hubs 2022/23. 1: Whole Class Ensemble Teaching delivered to 747,000 children and young people (462,250 for the first time!). 2: 120,715 instrument loans to pupils acorss England. 3: Just over 120,000 children and young people attended at least one ensemble for half a term or more. 4: 433 inclusive SEND ensembles, compared to just 166 in 2015/16.The social media celebration started with some great stats from 2022/23 which demonstrate the impact of the work: 

  • Representing nearly 10% of the school population, 747,000 children and young people participated in Whole Class Ensemble Teaching – 62% of them for the first time.   
  • There was a marked increase in SEND ensembles. A total of 433, which is nearly three times the number in 2015/16!   

Over the day, our membership pitched in and shared their stories, photos and videos. There are way too many to mention (you can take a look at the hashtag #CelebrateMusicEdHubs here), but I loved a video from ArtForms in Leeds and in particular a quote from one pupil who said:

I don’t think I can put it into words what music means to me, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without music in my life…. It helps me in ways I couldn’t explain’.   

I can’t say it often enough, but music really does have the power to transform lives! 

We also extended the campaign to shout about the great work going on around the UK. We were excited to share details of some of the partnership work in Scotland including the We Make Music Libraries project. The engagement with the new National Plan for Music Education in Wales has been amazing, including over 25,750 hours of online use by teachers in schools across Wales of the new Charanga Cymru platform. And we highlighted two great projects going on in Northern Ireland – I personally love the idea of a ‘To Bassoon and Beyond’! 

There is so much going on across the country and celebrating it through this social media campaign has hopefully reminded everyone of that. Of course, words, pictures and short videos are great, but live performances can be even better at showing how amazing musical opportunities can be. I therefore can’t wait to head up to Birmingham on the 5th July to hear some of the many, many ensembles that will be performing in the Music for Youth National Festival (which runs from the 4th to the 6th). This is a showcase of the musical diversity available to children and young people across the UK. And as well as this national event, I know there will be thousands of regional and local events taking place over the coming weeks as we head to the end of another academic year.   

I feel certain that the music we hear, the joy we see on the faces of the performers and the deafening sound of the applause from parents and families will raise our spirits as much as the time off we will all hopefully take over the summer. And despite the worries about the future – the ongoing financial crisis and the further change which is inevitable – we must all remember that the musical learning we facilitate and champion in 2024/25 will result in more great learning opportunities and performances to benefit children and young people!