Music review sounds sharp note on provision
A major review into music education for three to 19-year-olds in Wales has found "considerable inequalities" in provision.
Teachers are suffering from low levels of confidence, particularly when teaching singing, with primary staff needing the most extra support and guidance, according to the report commissioned by the Assembly government.
Delivery is "more fragmented and complex than necessary for a small nation" and opportunities to create a quality service have been missed, the study found.
While local authorities had traditionally given good support to music education, the report said they could now offer only minimal assistance to music teachers and warned that future financial uncertainty could pose a further threat.
The long-awaited review was welcomed by music teachers when it was launched in September 2009.
Three years earlier, a group of prominent Welsh musicians, including opera singer Bryn Terfel and harpist Catrin Finch, wrote a letter voicing concerns that youth music in Wales was in decline and calling for a music manifesto.
Welsh inspectorate Estyn had also reported that standards in key stage 3 had decreased since 2005 and were lower than in all other non-core subjects.
The 20-strong review group, chaired by Carmarthenshire County Council school improvement officer Emyr Wynne Jones and comprising music specialists and teachers, met five times between September 2009 and May 2010.
Its report said: "There is a need for a national vision for music education for three to 19-year-olds to address these inequalities and uncertainties, and achieve greater co-ordination and coherence.
"Music makes an invaluable contribution to the well-being, learning and literacy of children and young people, and is vital to community cohesion."
Of the report's 16 recommendations, the Assembly government has accepted or is considering all 10 of those for which it is responsible.
In his response, education minister Leighton Andrews welcomed the "national vision" set out by the review. "Music has an important part to play in providing a broad and balanced programme of learning in early years settings, schools and 14-19 learning pathways," he said.
"We will continue to work with partners to improve standards and quality of learning."
He said that, by the end of the school year, all local authorities will have been involved in the CanSing singing initiative, and that the attainment-raising school effectiveness framework will provide the tools to help improve the quality of learning.
Mr Wynne Jones told TES Cymru he was pleased with the minister's response, but said the report must not be forgotten.
"The key issue for us now is ensuring something happens as a result of this report," he said. "It's encouraging that the minister has accepted most of the recommendations, but it won't mean anything unless action is taken."
- Original headlne: Music review sounds sharp note on unequal provision