English Baccalaureate threatens Music GCSE, says musicians' body

Incorporated Society of Musicians claim new system will stop pupils studying music

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The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has expressed its concerns that young people may find it 'difficult or impossible' to study GCSE music because of the Government’s new English Baccalaureate.

The English Baccalaureate is a list of the subjects which will be looked at when the national school league tables are compiled – subjects such as English, Maths, Science and languages are included while Music, Religious Education and Drama are not. This second-class status, says the ISM, could prove highly detrimental.

In a letter to Schools Minister Nick Gibbs, ISM’s Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts writes: ‘Without music GCSE being given the weighting it deserves, our cultural and creative economy will be put at risk, and young people who want to be involved in the music sector will have their efforts hampered. The Government is setting England up for an almighty shock in the future if they continue this policy – let alone the impact it is already having on young people who want to study music.’

The ISM also claims that their members have noticed music being ‘squeezed out of their schools’ and that at least one school has stopped offering Music GCSE completely.

In response, a Department for Education representative, has said to BBC News: ‘The ball is in schools' court over how they structure their curriculum and best meet pupils' needs. The number of EBacc subjects has been kept deliberately small – leaving plenty of lesson time to offer other valuable academic and non-academic qualifications, like music and RE. We've actually protected £82.5m funding for music services this year and are reforming the system so money is targeted where it is needed most in future.’

The Government is set to finalise the subjects in the English Baccalaureate in the next few weeks, in time for the 2012 league tables.

Elizabeth Davis

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