THE Government has come under fire from professional musicians over plans to allow more lesson time to be spent on literacy and numeracy at the expense of the arts.
The Incorporated Society of Musicians, which includes teachers, said ministers had relegated music and other arts to a "lower status".
The organisation has suggested that only primary schools known to be failing should be encouraged to emphasise the 3Rs.
In a response to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the society said the proposals "erode the concept of a broad and balanced curriculum and minimum entitlement in the arts".
The society, which has backed the TES campaign to promote music in primary schools, said that the Government's decision would have knock-on effects in teaching.
Children would enter secondary school with widely differing levels of musical attainment, which might affect their overall learning at key stages 3 and 4, it said. There were also fears that teachers' morale would suffer.
It warned that employment disputes might arise if schools cut back on part-time teachers and that recruitment of specialist music teachers might suffer.
The document added: "Music's special ability to promote children's aesthetic, intellectual, physical and social development has been amply demonstrated by a growing body of scientific research and case studies in schools.
"The attributes they develop - thought, technique and teamwork - underpin the very skills and personal qualities which the Secretary of State believes are needed for children to become good and active citizens in the 21st century."
Elizabeth Poulsen, head of professional policy at the ISM, said: "Rather than impose a blanket policy requiring all schools to modify the requirements on these subjects, the Government should be hand-picking schools which have been identified as being in difficulty. Schools which are achieving should be allowed to get on with it."
She said members of the organisation were planning petitions against the Government's policy.