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Music is a compulsory part of the curriculum in the UK.

Harriet Clifford

Covid has had devastating impact on school music education, report finds

9:59, 7th December 2020

A report published by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) reveals that Covid-19 has had a ‘devastating’ impact on music education in schools, with almost 10% of primary and secondary schools not teaching music at all. 

Entitled The heart of the school is missing, the report draws on a survey of UK music teachers launched on 7 September 2020, which received 1,307 responses. 

Key findings of the report include: 

  • Almost 10% of primary and secondary schools are not teaching class music at all.
  • 68% of primary school and 39% of secondary school teachers state that music provision is being reduced.
  • Extra-curricular activities are no longer taking place in 72% of primary schools and 66% of secondary schools this academic year. 
  • Face-to-face instrumental lessons are not continuing in the 2020/21 academic year in 35% of primary schools and 28% of secondary schools. 

As well as the impacts on students’ music provision, the report found that teachers’ health and wellbeing are being negatively impacted by the changes to the delivery of classroom and extracurricular music and the support they are receiving from schools. 

The report highlights ‘worrying inequalities’ for pupils at a local and a national level, emphasising the impacts on diversity and accessibility within music education. As a result, the ISM is calling on all four UK governments to implement the recommendations made in the report. 

These include providing clear guidance, a consistent approach to exams, and reinstating bursaries for postgraduate music initial teacher training (ITT) courses from 2021 onwards. The ISM is also calling on the Department for Education (DfE) to publish the revised National Plan for Music education as soon as possible. 

In a blog published alongside the report, ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts said, It is vital that every child can access a quality music education. Therefore there needs to be sustained and meaningful leadership across all levels of government, actively encouraging safe music teaching in schools and in the wider community.

However, it cannot be forgotten that this crisis is affecting teachers as well as pupils. It is clear from these results that teachers are working incredibly hard, showing immense creativity in constantly adapting to provide continuous access to music for young people. But this extraordinary commitment comes at a cost.’

The full report can be read here



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