Category Archives: Music Education

Further good news regarding the funding of music education

In a separate Ministerial Statement given by David Laws, there is some good news for the future funding of music education through the Educational Services Grant. This is a direct quote from the statement that can be found in full here:

The Department received a large volume of responses to the consultation relating to the provision of music services. Many were concerned that any reduced local authority support for music services would impact on the overall quality of music provision and in particular on the opportunities for disadvantaged children.

We strongly believe that all children should benefit from a good music education and have given £171million to music hubs since 2012. We have also announced today that central government funding for music education programmes will increase by £18m in 2015-16, and funding for music education hubs will rise to around £75m in total. Local authorities will continue to have total discretion about whether to spend any of the ESG they receive on providing music services

This final sentence is key and should be welcomed. In reality, though, the number of Local Authorities that will continue to support music education through the allocation of ESG funding remains to be seen. Most Local Authorities that I am aware of are withdrawing their funding at a significant rate as they prioritise other things. As I wrote before, the Government will claim a victory whilst the reality is they have cut funding to music education massively over 4 years whilst blaming Local Authorities for the mess that results.

Is this really an additional £18m to support music education?

The Government have announced an additional £18m of funding to support music education during 2015/16. This funding will go direct to music education hubs to help them fulfil their core roles. As Alan Davey says in the press release, this will help them plan with more confidence for the next year or so.

I welcome this additional funding. However, there are a couple of provisos. Firstly, this ‘additional’ money comes after significant cuts of around 10% every year to music education funding over the last few years. This additional money still means that music education funding is woefully short of where it was when this Government came to office.

Secondly, the spectre of significant reductions in Local Authority funding for music education still remains given the ongoing consultation into the Educational Services Grant. I wrote about this back in April yet the Government have still given no assurances that music education services will remain a core part of this grant. The potential loses to music education as Local Authorities withdraw their support will make this ‘additional’ £17m pale into insignificance. As many of us know, across the breadth of our country, music services are shutting or restructuring as their core funding from Local Authorities diminishes year by year.

UPDATE: See my recent post about another announcement today (22/7/14) through a ministerial statement by David Laws. Local Authorities will retain the right to use ESG funding for music education should they so wish. 

You might call me naive, but I think the crux of the argument is this. During the forthcoming election campaign, the Government can now say they have increased funding for music education (whilst in reality, over the whole term, they have decreased it).

The Government can now also blame Local Authorities for cutting music education funding and still maintain that they have supported it fully through this ‘increase’ in funding for music education hubs.

As usual, Tories cut and cut, privatise and then blame others when things go wrong. It’s pretty cynical but there you go.

The latest Love Music Trust newsletter

I’m delighted to be a trustee of the Love Music Trust. The latest newsletter from the Trust is now available from their website or you can download it here. I’m particularly looking forward to six fantastic concerts at Gawsworth Hall near Macclesfield over the coming weekend. The work of the Love Music Trust is inspirational and deserves to be supported by all schools in Cheshire East.

An open invitation to all schools to work in partnership with Roland and UCan Play

Roland UK and UCan Play are looking for new schools to become ‘Roland Champions’ for the next academic year. We will consider applications from any school that would like to work in partnership with us to develop innovative approaches to the use of Roland technologies within their curriculum. Please provide details of your own ideas in the appropriate place on the application form. Each Roland Champion School is asked to complete a short case study of their work throughout the year. Further information and the application form can be found here.

All successful Roland Champion Schools will receive highly preferential pricing on all Roland and Boss technologies. These prices also extend to staff and students at these schools.

The deadline for applications is the 31st August 2014 and the selected schools will be announced around the 7th September 2014.


Some personal reflections on the recent Ofsted advice on assessment

I first met Martin Fautley at the University of Cambridge in the late 1990s. He was studying for a doctorate there; I was teaching at Stowmarket High School. We were both attending a seminar/study group on music teaching and research led by our colleague Pam Burnard. Martin’s doctorate was focusing on a process of assessment for music education. It was, and still is, a fascinating read. Continue reading

The Love Music Trust Primary Music Curriculum is launched!

This post is about a new primary school music curriculum that I’ve been involved in supporting. It has been written by primary teachers in Cheshire East and produced by the Love Music Trust, the music education hub in Cheshire East. My company,, has helped in the preparation of the online content.

The Love Music Trust Primary Music Curriculum contains 6 units of work for each year of Key Stages 1 and 2. It has been written specifically for the generalist primary teacher to help them address the requirements of the new National Curriculum. There is also a collection of Early Years resources (these will be increasing over the coming weeks). The Love Music Trust have made two of the units available free of charge.

Further details about the curriculum can be found here.

I’ve really enjoyed working on this curriculum over the last few months. I’ve learnt a lot from working with the other staff on the project and I’m very happy to recommend this to you.

Please could you do all you can to raise awareness about this new resource with your primary schools in any way that you can. Thank you very much.

Please don’t forget that we are here to support you and your school in any way in respect of the development of your music provision and wider use of technology.

Another Brick in the Wall; Or lives without music? A guest post by Nigel Taylor, Chair, Music Mark

I’m delighted to re-post the following article by Nigel Taylor, Chair of Music Mark, first published on the 28th April 2014. It has been posted here with his full permission.

Another Brick in the Wall; Or lives within music?

When the coalition government’s National Plan for Music Education (NPME) was first published in November 2011 it was welcomed for its demonstration of strong political support for the importance of music education and the continuing need for ring-fenced money to underpin key area provision and opportunities that schools alone could not deliver.

A key initiative in the plan was the development of music education hubs, to take forward the work of local authority music services. Partnership would be at their core – bringing together a range of organisations to work together with schools to provide the best music education for children and young people. Continue reading

ISM launch new materials that support the National Curriculum for Music

I’m delighted that the ISM have published there support materials for the new National Curriculum for Music today. They are available here. Alison and Martin have done a great job in pulling this together. Under their leadership, and with the support of others across the music education community, these materials will prove invaluable for music educators in primary and secondary schools across the UK.

Just one small, additional note. Many of the folk who have led the production of these resources, and contributed to them, are members of education faculties across the country who have given their time freely to support the music education subject community. These are precisely the same folk who jobs are at risk and whose departments are closing under this Government’s determination to remove teacher education from universities in an ideological drive to get schools to undertake this role. Please remember what we are loosing as a result in terms of our subject communities and the wider benefits that these university staff bring to music education across the UK.

Funding decisions for music education hubs delayed and deferred

I’ve received news today that the decisions relating to the future funding of music education hubs have been delayed. This has been caused by the continued dithering by the DfE about the amount or availability of funding for music education hubs. It now seems that the DfE will not be announcing the future funding for music education hubs until the end of October 2014 at the earliest (one should probably read November 2014 for this I suspect).

For this reason, Arts Council England have decided not to go ahead with the funding application round that had planned for this summer. Instead, all existing music education hubs will have their contracts extended by one year (i.e. to the end of March 2016) and will receive whatever funds the DfE deem are available for that additional year (i.e. from April 2015 to March 2016).

A couple of comments. Firstly, I’m pleased that music education hubs can now plan a little more effectively for their futures with some degree of security about their work until March 2016. Secondly, I’m less pleased that the DfE has continued to dither and prevaricate about the funding of music education. This news comes in light of the continued battle to ensure that the ESG continues to contain funding for music services within Local Authorities. It really is a pretty messy picture at the moment but the consequences are very severe for music education if we don’t get behind campaigns such as those being launched by the ISM.

Music Mark begins to campaign against cuts to music education

I was very pleased to note that Music Mark have entered the fray regarding the potential removal of ESG funding for Local Authority Music Services. Their statement makes it very clear that such directive from central Government over the way in which ‘local’ authorities makes decisions is ’ill-judged, very damaging to music education provided by some music services and even potentially conflicts with the government’s own Department for Communities and Local Government policy on “giving local authorities more control over how they spend public money in their area?”. I hear that further work is being done by Music Mark on this issue. I’m happy to apologise for being a bit hasty in my criticism of them in previous tweets. We need to support all our national music education organisations. 

Curiously, directives from central Government have always held sway over the principles of localism. You only have to look at the ways in which local council’s decisions about planning and housing are routinely overturned by the Secretary of State to see that the principles of localism are tokenistic at best.