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Investment in music must be matched by changes in accountability, says NAHT

Last week, the government announced that more than £300 million will be invested in helping young people from every background enjoy the benefits of music and the arts. Over the next four years, this investment will go directly to 121 music hubs around the country. These music hubs will work with schools, local authorities and community organisations to promote getting more young people involved with music and the arts.

Commenting on the investment in music education hubs, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “we welcome extra investment in music. For some disadvantaged children, the cost of learning an instrument is out of the reach of their family, so any extra funding to make this a reality is welcome.

“We have seen in recent years that a narrowing of the curriculum at secondary has meant music and other creative subjects are being squeezed. This is the result of the Ebacc, which focuses too narrowly on a core of academic subjects. The subjects which count towards the EBacc are not the only ones which are rigorous or useful preparation for later life; religious studies and music are both examples of demanding and useful qualifications. Given the pressures created by the Ebacc, there will be precious little time left for subjects outside the core.”

James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge, says: “whilst the extra funding is welcome, we have seen a 5% drop in the number of students being entered for GCSE music. The accountability system must allow for pupils to take music if they want to; who can argue that learning an instrument is not rigorous?

“Too strong a focus on EBacc subjects, driven by high stakes accountability, with little room for any additional subject choices at key stage 4, means pupils can be limited in their subject choices at A-Level too. And when schools drop music at GCSE altogether, it is incredibly difficult to reverse this decision because of the equipment schools need to buy in order to run such courses.”

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First published 08 February 2018