‘We ask therefore that the government takes an active role in encouraging head teachers and schools, irrespective of their status, to maintain their commitment to music education through the recovery and catch-up period, and in the long-term.’
From the letter to Gavin Williamson, sent 2nd June 2020 from ISM, the Music Teachers’ Association and Music Mark. Co-signed by the Music Education Council, Musicians’ Union, Sound Connections, National Youth Orchestra, Sound and Music, UK Music and Youth Music.
After an anxious week and two leaks, the official DfE guidance on schools opening was released on Thursday 2nd July. There is a commitment to a broad and balanced curriculum from September and no expectation that schools will focus on particular subjects at the expense of others. In addition to delivering the full National Curriculum, to quote from the guidance, ‘Supply teachers, peripatetic teachers and/or other temporary staff can move between schools,’ this means that teaching staff from Music Hubs and Services are permitted by government to return to schools. As our chair James Dickinson said at the last week, ‘Music is part of the recovery’. It is not something to be added on once schools have found their feet, the joy of playing and sharing music, the academic development it supports and the wellbeing it can underpin are all crucial as students return.
The emphasis on wellbeing as pupils return to school is important and music activity will be enormously helpful where schools are considering pastoral and extra-curricular activities designed to support rebuilding of friendships and social engagement; equip pupils to respond to Covid-19 related issues; and support pupils to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. We will continue to release articles every week throughout the summer relating to our 10 Things All Schools Should Know About Music guide.
We still need child-specific and scientifically based guidance for Music in schools which is something Music Mark is pushing for. We are maintaining our Music Unlocked guidance in-line with the best available scientific information and official advice. However, until the government has offered Music Education specific guidance there will be an unhelpful air of uncertainty impacting on all of us working in the sector.
Hannah Fouracre from Arts Council England continues to be in regular contact with Bridget Whyte, our CEO. You can hear the speech Hannah gave in support of Music Education at our Summer Summit here, within it she suggests everyone who cares about Music Education write to their MP, find out who that is here. There is advice available here on the power of a personally penned letter and an editable Word template for the letter with the key points we feel should be made will be available in the next few days.
These are critical times for Music Education and indeed the Arts more widely. As ever, Music Mark’s vision remains; we want to see excellent musical learning in and out of school, for all children and young people in the UK, which inspires and enriches their lives. We’ve seen how important Music has been for so many during the Lockdown. As schools reopen, Music needs to be a fundamental part of every schools’ curriculum.
Photo Credit: Rosie Lowe