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Risk to teachers’ jobs and access to music education as hub funding not confirmed

20th September 2019

  • Network of 121 music education hubs and jobs of more than 12,000 peripatetic music teachers at risk
  • Current funding settlement for music education hubs runs until 31 March 2020
  • The Incorporated Society of Musicians and the UK Association of Music Education – Music Mark join forces in calling for continued funding to ensure music education hubs and the peripatetic workforce is not put at risk

The ISM and Music Mark have called for the government to confirm continued funding for music education hubs, and in recognition of increased costs to deliver the National Plan for Music Education, that the funding be increased to at least £100m per annum for the next five years.

The current funding settlement for music education hubs currently runs until 31 March 2020 and no further funding has been confirmed – putting thousands of peripatetic teachers’ jobs at risk as music education hubs face an uncertain future.

The call to confirm further funding comes as the Government announced increases to teachers’ pay above inflation and employer contributions into the Teachers’ Pension Scheme to 23.6 per cent, effective from September 2019. While the pay and pension contribution increases are important to supporting and retaining a quality teaching workforce, they place a significant additional cost burden on music education hubs. This results in increased prices for parents and children, as well as posing a severe risk to key front line services around inclusion and diversity for all children and young people. …for all children and young people. The Government’s plans for the biggest reform to teachers’ pay in a generation will have a knock on effect for both music services and their staff, potentially widening a pay gap between those on teachers’ pay and conditions and those who are not. Now more than ever it is vital that additional support from the government is provided to ensure the delivery of its aspirations for music education hubs.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

‘Without the Government’s continuous investment over the past seven years the work of the music education hubs to ensure more equitable opportunity would not have been possible. However it is vital there is no gap in funding whilst the Plan is being ‘refreshed’ and that the Government confirms its commitment to music education hubs from April 2020 as soon as possible. As it currently stands, peripatetic teachers – thousands of which the ISM represents – are at risk of redundancy as music education hubs are put at financial risk.’

Bridget Whyte, Chief Executive of Music Mark said:

‘While we are grateful for the Government’s investment over recent years into music education hubs, the current allocated funding is simply not enough to ensure the future of music education hubs and equitable access for all children to the opportunities within the National Plan for Music Education. Parents and schools cannot, and should not, be expected cover the increased shortfall. Therefore we call on the Government to agree a realistic ongoing settlement for the delivery of its aspirations for music education hubs.’

Music education hubs were set up in 2012 as part of the National Plan for Music Education (published in 2011). Since the network of 121 music education hubs was established, more children and young people have gained access to musical learning opportunities beyond the national curriculum.  However the current funding allocated is being stretched each year, with imposed increases to staff costs as well as reductions in other income streams such as financial support from cash strapped Local Authorities and Schools.

The government announced in January 2019 that it would ‘refresh’ the National Plan for Music Education, but that work has yet to be completed.  Funding is allocated to sit alongside a set of Core and Extension Roles for Music Education Hubs within the wider plan.  At present there is risk of a gap in funding for these hubs while the refresh takes place.

The government has committed to a £7.1 billion increase in funding for schools by 2022-23 (£4.6 billion above inflation), compared to 2019-20 funding levels. Ahead of that the schools budget will rise by £2.6 billion in 2020-21 and £4.8 billion in 2021-22, compared to 2019-20 funding levels. It has not been announced how this money will be allocated.

About the National Plan for Music Education

The report Music Education in England, otherwise known as the ‘Henley Review’, was published in 2011. The Henley Review set out recommendations for the minimum expectations of what any child going through the English school system should receive in terms of music education. It highlighted high quality and sustained music education within the school curriculum as the cornerstone of every child’s music education.

The National Plan for Music Education was born out of the review and is based on its recommendations. The Plan is an ambitious, aspirational document which sets out clear objectives with regards to delivery, access, progression and excellence in the music education sector. The Plan was launched in 2012 and continues to March 2020. The Plan’s main aim was to ensure that access to music education was not impacted by a postcode lottery. The vision was to ensure that opportunities were equal and available and notably, the Plan highlighted that the first opportunity many pupils will have to study music will be at school.  The plan gave clear guidelines for what was expected of schools and that this foundation should be nurtured to provide broader opportunities and progression routes through the music education hubs.

About Music education hubs

Music education hubs were set up in 2012 as part of the National Plan for Music Education. Music education hubs comprise groups of organisations working together across one or more local authority areas.  The partnership is likely to include local authority music services, schools, other national, regional and local music education and arts organisations, community and voluntary groups.

Music education hubs were designed to augment and support music teaching in schools (a guaranteed statutory requirement to the end of Key Stage 3) so that more children could experience a combination of classroom teaching, instrumental and vocal tuition and input from professional musicians, as set out by the Plan. The structure of the various organisations also meant that music education hubs would be able to deliver a music offer that drew on a wide range of expertise. The Plan stated that the music education hubs in ‘every area will help drive the quality of service locally, with scope for improved partnership working, better value for money, local innovation and greater accountability’.

Music education hubs were also promoted as having an important role in ‘first access’ to music through continuing to develop the whole-class instrumental and vocal programme for a minimum of a term in schools, as well as providing broader opportunities and progression routes inside and outside the classroom. The idea was that class teachers and specialist instrumental teachers working together could maximise opportunities for musical progression and provide for different needs and aspirations of pupils beyond the music curriculum.


Story first published in TES.