Birmingham schoolchildren not in tune with music education


Here is a useful article from “on the ground” which highlights the startling statistics relating to schoolchildren failing to receive music education due to squeezed budgets and time. The findings, commissioned by education charity Services For Education, reveal the devastating impact this is having.

This article follows on from our recent report: Music A-Level and GCSE Results 2018: facts & figures

As schools reopen their doors, a survey has revealed that more than half of Birmingham schoolchildren receive less than an hour of music education each week – a ‘worrying’ decline, according to leading education charity, Services For Education.

Sixty-eight per cent of primary schools and academies across Birmingham are not able to dedicate more than an hour of their weekly curriculum to some form of musical learning, which is increasingly being ‘squeezed out’ by core subjects.

The survey also reveals that 20 per cent of music is only taught ‘ad hoc’, whilst 77 per cent of schools have just 35 children learning to play an instrument in school. Also, only 56 per cent of schools had teachers attend music-specific training or development.

Stuart Birnie, interim head of Music Service at Services For Education, said: “Our research shows that whilst schools are increasingly engaging with music and singing through digitally enhanced technology and support, there is a misunderstanding of balance in the curriculum, where very often, the music offer runs exclusively during the school’s ‘Music Week’. There needs to be a shift in providing primary school children with more meaningful engagement with music, rather than seeing it squeezed out by core subjects.

“The decreasing regularity of how these children are learning music is worrying. It positions the subject as something for fun and fails to appreciate the importance of dedicating time to acquire new skills – both technical and personal. As we know, music stimulates creativity and strengthens concentration levels. It gives children self-confidence and is proven to help with numeracy and literacy; music is not only about counting and performing – it can help with problem solving and social skills.

“Consequently, our role has largely developed into providing the music curriculum offer, rather than enhancing the work of schools. We are calling out for all Birmingham schools and teachers to take ownership of their music curriculum – which starts with building confidence in the teachers.”

The research – which surveyed all Birmingham primary and secondary schools – was conducted by Professor Martin Fautley, Dr Victoria Kinsella and Dr Adam Whittaker from Birmingham City University on behalf of Services For Education.

Each year Services For Education’s Music Service delivers subsidised music services to 38,000 schoolchildren in 384 Birmingham schools. It also provides 28,000 musical instruments free of charge.