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UK Music calls for more support for music education as English schools re-open

By | Published on Monday 8 March 2021

UK Music

Cross-sector trade group UK Music has called on the government to ensure that music education is high up the agenda as schools swing back into action across England today after the latest COVID lockdown. The various school closures that have occurred over the last year due to COVID have “severely curtailed” access to music education for tens of thousands of young people, UK Music says.

The group’s CEO, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, said this morning: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on children’s learning and music education has been amongst the hardest hit. As children return to school, it’s mission-critical that music education is put front and centre of the efforts to catch up”.

“It’s vital that all children have a good musical education”, he added. “Not just because of the positive benefits on other subjects, or the important mental health and wellbeing impacts, but because the UK’s world-leading music industry relies on a strong talent pipeline. That pipeline has been badly damaged over the past year, and so it’s imperative we now do what we can to protect and strengthen it”.

Njoku-Goodwin also referenced past commitments by the current UK government regarding arts education, including so called Arts Premium funding, as well as pointing out that we are still awaiting another national plan for music education from ministers.

He continued: “Delivering the [Conservative Party’s] 2019 manifesto commitment for an Arts Premium would help schools deliver the high quality music education that children deserve. The UK music industry is a key national asset that generates billions for the economy every year and boosts our global reputation. It relies on nurturing emerging talent – so strengthening that crucial talent pipeline is undoubtedly in our national interest”.

Of course, there have been concerns for years that music education has been down-graded in many UK schools, with creative arts subjects in general not being seen as a priority and therefore not getting the investment required. Commitments such as Arts Premium were seen as a small step in the right direction to deal with that problem. However, disruption in the schools as a result of COVID have made the problem worse.

UK’s Music’s Director Of Education And Skills, Oliver Morris, added: “We must ensure COVID doesn’t sound the death knell for music in schools and we urge the government to act decisively to protect it. Music has the power to provide a lot of positivity in these difficult times as well as assist pupils in their reintroduction to school life. It is also often at the cutting edge of innovation”.

“Now is the time for the government to demonstrate its support for teachers, school leaders, music services and hubs, and community music organisations”, he added. “Music must remain a part of school life so no matter what a pupil’s socio-economic or geographical situation it is accessible to all”.