Music education: a middle-class preserve?

Writing in the Telegraph, Ivan Hewett says it is pupils from the poorest backgrounds that will suffer from proposed Government cuts to music education resources…

…As this source of funding dwindles, the role played by local authority funding has naturally grown. Which is why the announcement tucked away in the Education Department’s proposals to save £200 million from the Education Services Grant (ESG) is potentially a killer blow…

This “expectation” is that those non-core musical activities can now keep going quite happily without local authority funding, and rely entirely on something called the Music Hubs. There are 123 of these Hubs, which were set up in 2011 to put the National Plan for Music Education into effect. Typically a Hub will be a consortium of a County Music Service, a handful of leading schools with strong music departments, and perhaps an educational or disability trust.

The document analyses the overall budget for these Hubs, which makes for interesting reading. The biggest single contribution comes from central government. But schools and parents together actually contribute a larger fraction of the whole, and the figure for the “parental contribution” element is twice the sum for local authorities. In some areas parents actually contribute half the total cost of non-core services. But there are signs that the limit of parental generosity are being reached. When lesson fees are raised, many pupils simply drop away, as parents decide enough is enough…

One Hub (which didn’t want to be named) says it will soon start charging for instrument hire, which will inevitably exclude some children. Another says that without the local authority grant, the subsidy it offers for lessons for poor children claiming school meals and for “looked-after” children (i.e. those in care) will simply disappear…

If you agree that the Education Secretary is about to make a potentially disastrous mistake you can do your bit, by responding to the consultation document at

More at: Music education: a middle-class preserve?

Your reaction to these comments from Ivan Hewett? Is he right to fear for the future of music education, especially for those from poorer backgrounds? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Policy.


  1. Sherbs1

    SchoolsImprove It will be interesting to assess whether our Music Service reaches the poorest children! Data required

  2. Henrouss

    Sherbs1 you only receive one year of subsidised instrument hire. Poorest families can’t afford to buy instruments so have to give up

  3. Sherbs1

    Henrouss Like selection for sec school, it will be interesting to see how many of our poorer children actually get to start.

  4. Henrouss

    Sherbs1 like selection, it depends how many choose to participate. Unlike selection , no continuing support

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