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#CanDoMusic campaign calls on government to reinstate bursaries for trainee music teachers

21st October 2020

Following the reported removal of postgraduate bursaries for Initial Teacher Training in Music, Music Mark has sent a letter in partnership with the Incorporated Society of Musicians and The Music Teachers Association to the government to express their concern.

Writing to the English Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, the letter addresses the recent removal of the bursaries, suggesting that the repercussions could mean music in schools will only be available to the schools fortunate enough to employ a music teacher out of an ever decreasing pool. Unless urgent action is taken with teacher recruitment, music could disappear entirely from many schools.

  1. Government targets for teacher recruitment have been missed for the past seven years and the musical experience of children in schools across the UK is already desperate.
  2. The ISM’s State of the Nation report highlighted that music is no longer taught across the three years of Key Stage 3 in half of state-funded secondary schools.
  3. This in turn has led to an alarming 20% decline in the numbers of students being able to take GCSE Music since 2015 and it is now the fastest disappearing subject at A Level, with a 38% drop since 2010.

The need to attract the finest musicians to teaching is the greatest it has ever been. Schools are the only places where young people are guaranteed to receive music education (it is a statutory requirement until the end of Year 9) and so it is vital that lessons are accessible and meaningful. The surest way of achieving this is through recruiting outstanding teachers.

Commenting on the joint letter, CEO of Music Mark, Bridget Whyte said:

‘The music department in a secondary school can often be one of the largest as it will include all the visiting instrumental teachers and workshop leaders who support the curriculum staff.  But the department needs the strong foundation provided by at least one skilled music teacher who can plan and deliver an inspiring music curriculum and coordinate (and co-deliver) the extra-curricular opportunities which bring the school community together.  Like the Music Education Hubs in England, which are a partnership of organisations including schools, who provide an exciting and enriching music education for children and young people across a local area, the school music department is a hub for their pupils, as well as the wider school community including staff, parents and carers, as well as the pupils and staff at feeder primary schools.  If the pathway into the profession is restricted to those who can afford to train, the music education ecosystem in many schools will be severely affected.  The government must reconsider their decision or their expectation that every student will have access to a broad and balanced curriculum which includes music (as well as other arts and humanities subjects) will become a postcode lottery.’

The #CanDoMusic campaign was launched earlier this year by the ISM, MTA and Music Mark to protect music in schools. Its mission is to celebrate the innovation of music teachers and to share practical resources that will deliver music in engaging new ways.
Visit for practical resources to support teachers continuing to make music in schools.

A press release and the full joint letter can be found here.