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Government announces music education plan

By | Published on Monday 28 November 2011

Arts Council

The government announced its first ever national plan for music education in England on Friday, responding to the previously reported Henley Review of music education matters, undertaken by Classic FM Managing Director Darren Henley.

Among other things, all school children will be offered the opportunity to receive lessons to play a musical instrument for at least one term, a new music teaching module will be developed for trainee primary teachers, and new ‘music hubs’ will be set up around the country to assist in music education in schools, overseen by the Arts Council.

The new hubs will replace the local authority music service departments that already exist, and ministers hope the new framework will ensure there is more consistency around the country, noting that while some areas already have excellent music service units, that is not the case in every region.

According to The Stage, the government’s education chappy, Michael Gove, said the new grand plan would “deliver a music education system that encourages everyone, whatever their background, to enjoy music and help those with real talent to flourish as brilliant musicians”, while Culture Minister Ed Vaizey added that the new resources would help “provide our fantastic creative industries with the next generation of talent”.

Meanwhile the CEO of the Arts Council, Alan Davey said: “I know from personal experience just how much early opportunities to get involved in the arts can enrich a young person’s life and help develop their potential. That’s why I’m so pleased to apply the Arts Council’s skill and judgement to the establishment of music education hubs, which will play a key role in ensuring that every child in this country has the chance to experience the richness of music”.

However, The Incorporated Society Of Musicians, which represents music teachers, welcomed various elements of the new plan, expressed concern over the speed with which the new music hubs are expected to take over from existing music service departments. Says the ISM: “We are delighted that the government recognises the pre-eminence of music education in this country and the central role music plays in our creative and cultural economy. However, we have serious concerns about the rapid pace at which the new music education hubs are expected to take forward the work of local authority music services, supposedly beginning to operate as early as September 2012”.

They continued: “We already know that many music teachers’ jobs up and down the country are under threat as local government and other bodies make cuts. In these difficult times, with further uncertainty following the late publication, government needs to ensure that these proposals are turned into a reality, avoiding an ill thought through implementation process”.

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