Music education funding ringfenced for 2011-12

Government report on the future of music in schools published

Music education in the UK is ‘good in places, but distinctly patchy,’ according to a new government review exploring the subject

‘We need to eradicate the "patchiness" and bring music education in England up to a universally high standard,’ said the Henley report, headed up by Darren Henley, the managing director of Classic FM.

As a result of the report’s 36 recommendations, the government has agreed to ringfence £82.5m for music education in 2011-12. In Harmony, a scheme allowing children in deprived areas to become involved in playing in a symphony orchestra, and piloted with success in Liverpool, Lambeth and Norwich, is to receive £500,000 for the next year. The future of the project, which is based on El Sistema in Venezuela, is still unclear beyond then, but will be addressed in a National Music Plan to be published later in the year.

Teaching provision in schools is also examined by the report. Music should be a compulsory component of the National Curriculum, it suggests. In primary schools, singing should be encouraged, along with, ideally, a year’s worth of instrumental tuition. All primary schools should have access to a specialist music teacher, Henley recommends, perhaps through sharing resources.

Music conservatoire graduates will be encouraged to teach before embarking on a performance career. One proposal for making greater use of the UK’s performers would see an expansion of the Teach First scheme. Conservatoire-trained musicians would be encouraged to spend two years teaching before pursuing a performance career.

‘Henley’s report is realistic, positive and bold,’ writes Tom Service inThe Guardian. ‘Providing that is, that all, or most of, its recommendations actually translate into practice. What happens next is key.’

Rebecca Franks