School music report reveals cuts, inequality and demoralised teachers

According to The Guardian, subject is in a ‘perilous state’ and is being squeezed out of the curriculum by competing demands, says new research.

When the children at Barlby primary in west London got up to perform at the Royal Albert Hall last month it was, according to their headteacher, an overwhelming and aspirational event.

The school, which is part of the local community around Grenfell Tower, is among the most diverse and disadvantaged in the country, with more than 25 languages spoken and high levels of pupil premium entitlement.

Its pupils are still talking about the opportunity they had to perform a specially written composition commissioned by three London councils, the historic venue and the Royal College of Music.

But, according to research published today, the experience of Barlby’s pupils may be increasingly rare. Authors of The State of Play, a report by the Musicians’ Union and supported by UK Music and the Music Industries Association, describe music education as being in “a perilous state”.

The report paints a picture of creeping cuts to music education, a demoralised workforce with poor employment conditions and huge inequality in instrumental provision, with children from families earning under £28,000 a year half as likely to learn a musical instrument as those with a family income above £48,000. And 89% of parents are making a financial contribution towards instrumental lessons.

Jonathan Savage, one of the report’s authors and a reader in education at Manchester Metropolitan University, acknowledges that many schools have fantastic music provision. “But for every one that is fantastic, you will find another school in which next to nothing is going on,” he says.

The report includes examples from practitioners around the country about the pressure they are under from accountability measures, funding and school leaders’ commitment to music education.

Read more School music report reveals cuts, inequality and demoralised teachers

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