Mu­sic fall­ing si­lent in our class­rooms

Pres­sure on schools sees lessons van­ish

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - RUBY KITCHEN ED­U­CA­TION COR­RE­SPON­DENT Email: Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

MU­SIC ED­U­CA­TION is in dan­ger of dis­ap­pear­ing from the state cur­ricu­lum, school lead­ers have warned, as arts ex­ec­u­tives call for ur­gent re­form of the Gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy in the wake of a “stark di­vide”.

Up­take of mu­sic and arts GCSEs and A-Lev­els has fallen steadily over re­cent years, amid con­cerns over fund­ing cuts, ris­ing pres­sure, and too tar­geted a fo­cus on core sub­jects as a re­sult of the English Bac­calau­re­ate (EBacc).

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of the In­cor­po­rated So­ci­ety of Mu­si­cians (ISM) has told The York­shire Post that too many young peo­ple are de­nied ac­cess to re­al­is­ing their tal­ents, warn­ing ac­tion must be taken to re­verse the de­cline.

“The pres­sure on se­condary schools from the EBacc, com­bined with cuts in fund­ing, is re­duc­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in schools and ac­tively low­er­ing pupil par­tic­i­pa­tion in the mu­sic,” said Deb­o­rah An­netts, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the ISM.

“This means many pupils are un­able to re­alise their tal­ents in mu­sic, as for some school is the only place where ac­cess to mu­sic is pos­si­ble.”

Across the re­gion’s four coun­ties, just North York­shire saw stu­dents reach the na­tional av­er­age for top grades in mu­sic in their GCSEs this sum­mer, as en­tries fell by 17 per cent over the past five years na­tion­wide.

There have been warn­ings of schools hav­ing to raise money them­selves to fund teach­ing time, while oth­ers have faced dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions over the cur­ricu­lum. Re­sults day showed a stark re­gional di­vide in terms of up­take of GCSE mu­sic, added Ms An­netts, and warned: “Ac­cess to good mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion should not be a post­code lot­tery.”

Ge­off Bar­ton, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the As­so­ci­a­tion of School and Col­lege Lead­ers, cit­ing Ofqal fig­ures show­ing a 26 per cent drop in en­tries at A-level mu­sic over five years, said: “The ev­i­dence is clear that mu­sic, along with sev­eral other cre­ative arts sub­jects, is be­ing pushed to the mar­gins of the cur­ricu­lum.

“There is a se­ri­ous dan­ger that this sub­ject will dis­ap­pear from the state sec­tor un­less ac­tion is taken to re­dress its de­cline. It is at risk of be­com­ing the pre­serve only of those fam­i­lies who can af­ford pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion.

“The marginal­i­sa­tion of these sub­jects un­der­mines equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity and so­cial mo­bil­ity, as well as dam­ag­ing the vi­brant cre­ative arts in­dus­try which plays a vi­tal role in our econ­omy.”

A Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son said: “We take the study of the arts ex­tremely se­ri­ously which is why mu­sic and art re­main com­pul­sory parts of the na­tional cur­ricu­lum up to age 14. We in­vest heav­ily in arts and mu­sic sub­jects. In to­tal, we have in­vested nearly £500m in mu­sic and arts ed­u­ca­tion be­tween 2016 and 2020.”

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