The decline of music education threatens to deprive Britain of future talent

Last month the talented young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason became the first artist to receive a BRIT Certified Breakthrough Award for his debut album Inspiration. His album is aptly named. He inspired a TV audience of hundreds of millions when he played at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. But it’s worth remembering that he went to a comprehensive school in one of the less advantaged parts of Nottingham. Michael Dugher, chief executive of UK Music writes in The New Statesman. 

“Having the opportunity to have been supported from my school in my music is so special,” he said. “But I think many children like me won’t have had even nearly those opportunities and I think that is one of the saddest things to see.”

Since the introduction in 2010 of the EBacc, which excludes creative subjects such as music, 59.7 per cent of state schools say it has had a negative impact on music provision and uptake, according to a study conducted by the University of Sussex.

One fifth of schools did not offer GCSE Music last year. Of those schools that do offer Music GCSE, 11 per cent are taught outside curriculum time.

The decline of music in education has had a negative impact on social mobility where music has a key role to play. Top earners are four times more likely to pay for social-enrichment classes for their children. Fifty per cent of children at independent schools receive sustained music tuition, while the figure for state schools is just 15 per cent.

At a time when the creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the wider economy and are now worth £92bn to the UK, allowing creative subjects like music to wither on the vine makes no sense.

But as well as there being a strong economic imperative to save music in our schools, there is also a solid education argument. According to the Cultural Learning Alliance, participation in structured arts activities can increase cognitive abilities by 17 per cent.

Growing international evidence demonstrates children who are engaged in their education through music do better at Maths and English. This is supported by the experience in the London Borough of Newham where pupils performing less well at Key Stage 2 have shown marked improvements in their studies after they joined the Every Child a Musician programme for schools.

Read the full article The decline of music education threatens to deprive Britain of future talent

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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