Chancellor urged to 'urgently review' music education

Warning that the decline of music in schools could jeopardise the UK's multi-billion-pound music industry

Tes Reporter

UK Music has called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to order an 'urgent review' into music education in state schools

UK Music has called on chancellor Philip Hammond to order an "urgent review" into music education in state schools.

The organisation's chief executive, Michael Dugher, said there could be "potentially catastrophic consequences" for the future of music in the UK if the government fails to act.

Outlining his concerns in a letter to Mr Hammond ahead of his Budget on 29 October, Mr Dugher warned that an "alarming" decline in the take-up of music in state schools threatens the "talent pipeline" in the UK music industry.

The letter said: "The music industry contributes £4.4 billion to the economy and has grown by 6 per cent over the past five years. Exports are up 13 per cent to £2.5 billion.

"Ensuring children from all backgrounds have access to music in our state education system is critical to the continued success of the British music industry."

Mr Dugher highlighted a recent UK Music report which said that 17 per cent of music creators were educated at fee-paying schools, when just 7 per cent of the population attend private schools. It also said that 50 per cent of children at independent schools received sustained music tuition, while the figure for state schools was only 15 per cent.

Music 'in a spiral of decline in schools'

Mr Dugher said the report "also revealed growing evidence of a spiral of decline when it comes to participation in music in our schools".

"This is putting our talent pipeline at risk and potentially jeopardising the significant contribution music makes to UK plc," he said.

"We fully accept that the music industry has to step up and play our part in supporting the talent pipeline.

"But the government can play a vital role, too. An urgent government review into the funding of music in our state education system could help to identify where the problems currently are and what we need to do together to address them.

"If we fail to act now, we risk looking back in years to come and reflecting on a period when music in our schools was allowed to wither on the vine, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the cultural and the economic contribution music makes to our country."

News of his letter came the day after a report showed an increase in the number of schools being helped by the DfE's network of music hubs.

Music industry stars including Ed Sheeran and Andrew Lloyd Webber have previously expressed their concerns about music education cuts.

Sheeran said last month: "I benefited hugely from state school music, as I'm sure many other UK musicians have.

"If you keep cutting the funding for arts, you're going to be damaging one of Britain's best and most lucrative exports."

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