On the 16th November, Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, asked the Ministers for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport what steps the Education Secretary was taking to engage more children with music.
In her question to the Minister for Media, Tourism and Creative Industries, Mrs Hobhouse praised the UK’s only young carers’ creative orchestra, Bath Philharmonia, who she welcomed to Parliament earlier this year. She then expressed her regret that many young people across the UK do have access to music education.
A-Level music entries are currently at their lowest ever, according to research by the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM). Participation fell by 7% this year, and has decreased by 45% since 2010. The ISM also found that recruitment for teachers for secondary music courses had seen an alarming decline, with just 35% of the target for secondary music education being met.
Last year, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport published a new National Plan for Music Education, which aimed to increase opportunities for all children to engage in music. Sir John Whittingdale told Mrs Hobhouse that he had worked closely with the Department for Education to improve the delivery of the Music Hub investment programme and the Music Progression Fund.
The Bath MP then asked the Minister for Media, Tourism and Creative Industries to confirm how many schools had implemented the national plan to increase music education. While the Minister replied that the proportion of pupils studying for a music qualification at Key Stage 4 has remained stable over the past few years, research from the ISM tells a different story. GCSE music entries have fallen 12.5% just in the last year, and declined by 36% since 2010.
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, commented:
“We all know that music is vital to improving wellbeing and yet the rates of children engaging with music at school are dismal.
“The government are leaving us in the dark about schools’ progress following the National Plan for Music Education, and we are no closer to improving issues with teacher recruitment and retention.
“We must do better to ensure that all children across the UK have access to vital and transformative music education.”