A report out this morning,The heart of the school is missing, looks at the devastating impact of COVID-19 on music education in our schools across the UK. Most shocking is the discovery that almost 10% of primary and secondary schools are not teaching class music at all, even though it is a requirement of the curriculum.

The report found that 68% of primary school and 39% of secondary school teachers stating that music provision is being reduced and that Extra-curricular activities are no longer taking place in 72% of primary schools and 66% of secondary schools this academic year.

Studying music must not become the preserve of the privileged few but this research has highlighted worrying inequalities for pupils at a local and national level. This has huge implications for diversity. Teachers are constantly adapting, but COVID-19 has exacerbated a postcode lottery which is contributing to an ever-widening gap between those who can access instrumental tuition and those who cannot.

The evidence from the report is clear, COVID-19 threatens to further erode music education in the UK. The ISM urges all four governments across the UK to implement the recommendations made in this report, particularly amending guidance on music teaching and introducing a consistent approach to assessment. We also call on the DfE to publish the revised National Plan for Music education without delay.

In a blog reflecting on the report’s findings, the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, said:

‘We are disappointed but not surprised to discover that music education provision is being reduced in our schools as a direct result of the pandemic, with opportunities for pupils to make and create music even more limited both in and out of the classroom. Our survey findings suggest all aspects of music education are being impacted including singing in schools, practical music making, instrumental learning and examinations.

‘It is vital that every child can access a quality music education. Therefore there needs to be sustained and meaningful leadership across the governments of all four nations actively encouraging safe music teaching in schools. We need to see clear, timely and consistent guidance across all four nations for the rest of the 2020/21 academic year and beyond so that music education is not disrupted further. If we do not do this then not only will less privileged children go without, but the heart of the school will be damaged in the long term.’


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