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UK Music calls on government to ensure that music benefits from new education funding

By | Published on Monday 9 September 2019

UK Music

Cross-sector trade group UK Music is calling on the government to use a portion of new funds pledged to schools to counteract the crisis in music education. Current Chancellor Of The Exchequer Sajid Javid last week confirmed that the government would increase school spending by £7.1 billion over three years.

UK Music’s CEO Michael Dugher says that there is a “deepening crisis” in music education, which in turn threatens the future of the UK’s music industry. “News of increased funding for state schools from the Chancellor is very welcome”, he said in a statement. “Music contributes £4.5 billion to the economy. If we want to produce the stars of tomorrow, we’ve got to invest in talent for the future. That’s why the government should halt the decline of music in education to boost funding and support the industry’s talent pipeline”.

Noting that an increasing number of music makers were educated in private schools, with children at these institutions far more likely to receive sustained music tuition than those at state schools, he goes on: “We look forward to working with the government to ensure we have a broad and balanced curriculum in education and that we have universal access to music in state schools for all children, regardless of their background”.

In addition to Javid’s commitment on education spending, Dugher also welcomed the government’s plans to launch a fund to invest in youth centres. Ministers should also continue to support other initiatives that benefit musicians at different stages in their careers, he added, including the BPI-managed Music Export Growth Scheme, which allows artists who have gained momentum in the UK to explore new opportunities in new markets.

“Supporting music in education must be part of the government’s plan to strengthen Britain’s economy”, he concluded. “Supporting Britain’s world-leading music in the global market is essential, which is why the government should [also] continue to support things like the BPI’s Music Export Growth Scheme with its record of success delivering impressive returns from relatively small amounts of government investment”.

Whether these calls for increased music education spending will be heard remains to be seen. Following successive cuts to the education budget – £2.8 billion since 2015 alone – the National Education Union says that at least £12.6 billion is needed by 2022 to reverse these cuts and ensure proper funding for schools. With the union saying that many schools and areas of learning will remain dramatically underfunded despite Javid’s new commitments, things possibly don’t bode well for any imminent new investment in music education.