If you have an interest in the future of music education for children…


The MIA sits on the Music Education Council and we are offering all interested people from MI the chance to contribute to a survey, that will shape the sectors’ future recommendations for music education.

The Discussion Paper: The National Plan for Music Education


In answer to a parliamentary question in January 2018, Schools’ Minister Nick Gibb stated: The National Plan for Music Education sets out a vision for music education that gives children from all backgrounds and every part of England the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make music with others; to learn to sing; and to have the opportunity to progress. The Department continues to have regular meetings with music teachers to discuss aspects of the National Plan for Music Education. The current plan runs until 2020 and any proposals for a review or extension of the Plan will be announced in 2018.”

Members of the Music Education Council (MEC) will have their individual and organisational views about what a National Plan for Music Education 2.0 (2020 to 2030) should look like.

This discussion document contributes to the wider debate, enabling the sector to be proactive with a clear message to government on the future of music education, in and out of school; pre and post school”.


Much has changed since the introduction of the National Plan for Music Education in England. At the time of the plan’s publication in 2011 the English national curriculum, applicable to all schools, was under review. Now many schools only need to offer a broad and balanced curriculum. Over the past eight years the EBacc appeared. Research by the University of Sussex reported examples of its detrimental impact. Ofsted subject inspections ceased along with the loss of a national subject lead HMI. Cuts to Local Authority budgets have deepened. Employment conditions have changed for many teachers. The economic recovery has been much slower than envisaged in 2011. The national funding for hubs went down and then back up to £75m, where it has stayed, cash limited. Technology has developed. Instruments bought almost 10 years ago are no longer fit for purpose. Data collected measures some quantity but offers little in terms of meaningful outcomes, impact or improving quality.

But there are many examples of excellent practice and definitely some improvement. In 2011 the situation was patchy. It is still patchy in 2018. There are still too many occasions when things are not as good as they could and should be. How do we know? There has been no shortage of reports, support materials and examples of ‘best practice’.

So how do we build on and improve the current practice?

Policy documents and reports are important but have had limited success in the past so why should it be any different in future? Time and time again we see differences between intention, interpretation and implementation. And there will never be enough money! So what needs to change? Only by agreeing a set of principles and actions, reaching out through our networks and memberships to the people working at the front line of music education will we bring about sustainable change for the better. We must set realistic targets, celebrating improvement rather than complaining that things are not perfect. As an outcome of the MEC Seminar on the Music Curriculum on March 20th, therefore, MEC is seeking agreement around a set of draft statements that will drive music education over the next two years and inform the development of the National Plan for Music Education 2.0 (2020 to 2030).

Start young

  • Music in early years is vital. Every child and parent/carer should have access to quality music provision.

A clear entitlement for all children and young people in compulsory schooling

  • Music is an essential part of compulsory schooling. Every child should have opportunities to:
    • Build on early years’ experiences and ‘catch up’ where these aren’t currently available;
    • Create and compose; sing and play instruments together; listen to music; learn about music; and critically engage with music;[v]
    • Explore the many different kinds of music;
    • Progress and develop;
    • Engage fully with quality experiences that enable the individual to make informed choices and fulfil their potential.
  • All teachers who are required to teach music should be confident and able to do so. They should
    • Have strong subject knowledge and be able to keep their knowledge and skills as teachers up-to-date;
    • Be able to:
      • Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils;
      • Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils;
      • Plan and teach well-structured lessons;
      • Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils[vii].

Extra curricular and beyond schools or clusters of schools

  • Music is diverse. Schools should be partners within their local Music Education Hubs[viii]. The Hub’s rolling development plans[ix] should facilitate effective strategic planning and operational delivery that meet the needs of young people in its own local area, linking with further opportunities regionally and nationally as appropriate.

Opportunities post school

  • High quality music education enables lifelong participation in, and enjoyment of, music. For some young people school music education will end at 14; for others, it will continue and may lead to a music related career, including via Further or Higher Education. All options should be open to all.

Work from a secure evidence base

MEC, directly or through its members, should carry out a robust survey of music education in England now to provide a baseline from which to measure progress; and repeat the survey in 2020 to provide evidence of change over 2018/2020 and a further baseline measurement for NPME 2.0.

The Survey

Please visit Survey Monkey by no later than 5pm on 25th April.

The survey asks you to state the degree to which you agree or disagree with the statements and to add any additional comments which should be considered when the MEC reviews the document following this consultation.

If your main interest does not lie within England, please feel free to respond as the statements are generic and apply in whichever country you are working.