Music Teachers In Schools Are Axed In Education Cuts
Guitar lessons in schools are, as ever, threatened by UK Government budget cuts. The complicated nature of this sector, with so many sections, can make it difficult to join the fight to deliver the correct solutions. So how does it all work; It’s not rocket science. No new musicians means no new customers purchasing instruments. You might argue that a formal musical education is not crucial to that and all you need is three chords and the truth. Very punk rock, but ultimately that only works for guitar, bass and drums. Access to lessons and, of course, equipment is crucial, even if it only sets that person on the path to learning themselves.
But from the outside looking in it seems a complex picture with an array of bodies dedicated specifically to music education in schools, other bodies from the arts sector and syllabus owners like ABRSM,
Become A Music Teacher
By far the easiest way for a music teacher to start making money indepedantly from the Government tight hold on budgets. They are their own boss and can earn as much as they want, so no longer does a school or local authority dictate to them. And its easy to join, just go to www.BecomeAMusicTeacher.com to select either guitar, drums, piano, keyboards or singing and vocal teaching.
Trinity and Rockschool – all competing against each other.
The umbrella organisation, at least when it comes to music on the National Curriculum, is the Music Education Council. Under that you have the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and Music Mark. There are also lots of other bodies connected to community-based education projects.
Complicated, see? So why not simplify it and consolidate one or two of the bodies? Well, even the Government (and we know how dumb they are) recognized and made such a recommendation in its National Plan for Music Education. This has, so far, lead to a merger of the Federation of Music Services and the National Association of Music Educators to form Music Mark in February 2013. Similarly, the Schools Music Association becomes amalgamated with the ISM this month, in fact.
Only another 100 to go then.
That’s not to say that there isn’t unity. It’s more that each group comes from a different part of the same landscape – professional musicians, educators, community projects. And some of the smaller bodies are able to be more responsive to what’s going on in the sector than the larger MEC.
One thing that has united them all is the recent Protect Music Education campaign. Funding, you see, as it is in so many other areas of the country right now, is the biggest issue in music education at the moment.
It’s all about Music Hubs and how much money they have to disperse. Music Hubs you say? Indeed. The 123 hubs, funded by the Arts Council, were created as part of the Government’s National Plan for Music Education, which was largely applauded by the music education sector when it was published in November 2012. It was the Government’s response to the Henley Review commissioned by the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Essentially, hubs are just a different way of distributing the funding, taking it away from Music Servics under the direct control of Local Authorities and into the hubs, which assess what is required in the local area and then deliver it. The aim was to create a more uniform distribution of funds. Which it has, because now no-one has any.
They are answerable to OfStEd and have a number of expected functions:
• have regular supportive, challenging conversations with each of their schools about the quality of music education for all pupils in that school
• support all schools in improving the music education they provide, especially in class lessons, and support them in evaluating it robustly
• offer expert training and consultancy to schools, which supports school leaders and staff in understanding what musical learning, and good progress by pupils in music, are like
• ensure that their own staff and partners are well trained and ready to do this work
• spend a suitable proportion of their staff’s time on working with school leaders strategically, alongside their work in teaching pupils directly
• publicise their work effectively to schools and explain how it can contribute to school improvement
• facilitate school-to-school support as appropriate
• promote high-quality curriculum progression in schools and ensure that hubs’ work in schools is integral to this
All sounds wonderful. But none of that works without the right funding and it is here that the Government is perceived to be reneging on the deal, cutting funding from £82.5m in 2011 to £60m in 2014. Hugely surprising behaviour, I think we can all agree.
Which means, long term, you end up with just posh kids playing music. Ah, now you see why they did it?
And the response? Large scale public unrest? Riots, set to some angry Rachminov pieces? Maybe later. But for now it’s Protect Music Education. A campaign which points out the rather obvious fact that the Government’s wonderful Music Education Plan isn’t going to work without money behind it.
A government consultation process, which ended on June 19th, resulted in nearly 20,000 people getting involved with the PME’s consultation and nearly 120 organisations lending support to the campaign.
The fight, of course, goes on (has been going on forever, in fact) and it’s important that retailers recognise the importance of it for their own business. Go to the Protect Music Education campaign website and download the logo. Or contact us, we can send it to you. Put it up in your shop and make people aware of it.
Remember Ghandi? Course you do. Well, he couldn’t play a note. But he said this: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
WHATS A MUSIC HUB?
Hubs are responsible for the distribution of funds in local areas, formerly the responsibility of local authorities.
They are designed to ensure that every child aged 5-18 has the opportunity to sing and learn a musical instrument, and to perform as part of an ensemble or choir.
The hubs build on existing music services. A music education hub will be a collection of organisations working in a local area, to create joined up music education provision for children and young people, both in and out of school.
The idea is that they form strong partnerships with local authorities, schools, music organisations, practitioners and communities to provide quality music education across the whole country – while delivering better value for money and greater accountability.
WHO IS WHO
The music education sector has bodies representing many and varied interests within music. Some professional, some not. It’s a complex picture but here are some of the major players explained…
The Musicians’ Union
Represents about 30,000 professional musicians of whom about 20,000 are working in education at any one time. It is the biggest organisation representing musicians who teach and also has a partnership with the NUT who represent the majority of teachers working in the classroom.
A charitable, independent membership organisation, representing and supporting Music Services and over 12,000 instrumental and classroom music teachers, tutors, consultants, advisers, inspectors and lecturers in Initial Teacher Education.
Formed in February 2013 as a merger of the Federation of Music Services and the National Association of Music Educators.
Music Education Council
Acts as the UK’s umbrella body for all organisations involved with music education.
MEC draws its membership from across the entire music education and music industry sectors, giving it a uniquely big picture of music education in the UK. It exists to bring together and provide a forum for member organisations to debate issues affecting music education and to make representation and promote appropriate action at local, national and international level.
The Incorporated Society of Musicians is the UK’s professional body for musicians and subject association for music. It champions the importance of music and protects the rights of those working within music through a range of services, campaigns, support and practical advice.
Through its education committee, touches base with all the relevant music organisations in the UK. In 2009, the MIA published a free guide Quality Instruments for Education, that worked in partnership with the Department for Children and various music education bodies to provide helpful information on buying a musical instrument. The guide has been used by schools, parents, children, PTA’s etc.
National Music Council
The National Music Council sits at the centre of a complex network of national music organisations, and exists to promote the interests of the music sector as a whole. Membership is drawn from all areas of the music sector and is open to all organisations with an interest in music and its development in the UK: professional, voluntary and amateur; subsidized and commercial; creative and educational.