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A National Music Service

The Musicians' Union and the Fabian Society have published a report, setting out their recommendations for ensuring that every child can access a good music education.

The report underscores the point that the ambitions and intentions of the recently published National Plan for Music Education (2) are unlikely to be achieved without teeth or accountability measures, and to some degree, a vision of the necessary infrastructure. It also draws some comparisons between The National Plan for England, and the equivalent Welsh Plan, particularly in reference to the more generous per-pupil-head funding allocation for instruments and the establishment of a National Music Education Service which are included in the Welsh Plan.

The report begins by helpfully pulling together existing data and evidence of the benefits of music education, as well as setting out the real-terms cuts to funding of the Hubs budget in England.

It's main recommendations are:

  1. The introduction of a National Music Education Service - rather like the one proposed by the Welsh Government, but additionally having responsibility for "increased and multi-year central government funding". It is suggested that this NMES could sit either within Arts Council England or separately as an independent body.

  2. Improvements to music education in schools by (re)introducing an arts education premium - a ring-fenced funding stream for schools; an absolute requirement for high-quality and accessible music education to be part of the 'broad and balanced curriculum'; upgraded music teacher training (including greater prominence for music in Initial Teacher Training and the reintroduction of bursaries for trainee music teachers) and; supporting schools to engage professional musicians.

The proposed National Music Education Service would be responsible for a 'workforce guarantee for teachers and leaders in Hubs' in the form of a charter as part of the funding agreements between the NMES and local organisations. The charter would offer secure work, not zero hours contracts and set out that teachers employed or engaged by Hubs have a right to access training and skills development. It further suggests that the NMES should also focus on improving representation among the music education workforce.

Improved data gathering is also highlighted as a priority. With a focus on the quality and accessibility of music education, not just the numbers of pupils engaging. It further suggests that Ofsted might consider an inspection of Hubs - it last did so in 2013.

The full report can be found here:

Fabian Society paper August 2022
Download PDF • 372KB

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