08.03.2021: UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is calling on the Government to take urgent action to help students whose music education was badly hit by Covid-19.
The call comes as pupils in England return to school today (Monday) after the huge disruption to the music education of thousands of young people.
The impact of a series of lockdowns has meant music education has been severely curtailed for tens of thousands of young people – with many not even able to continue music lessons online.
Njoku-Goodwin is now urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to deliver on their 2019 manifesto pledge to spend £109 million a year on an Arts Premium for secondary school pupils by September 2021.
He argued that the Government should put music education “front and centre” to help support the talent pipeline of the world-leading music industry, and boost the mental wellbeing of many young people.
In December, education watchdog Ofsted warned many primary schools had suspended music education and were not even offering remote lessons.
Njoku-Goodwin said the need to help children catch up on their music education meant it was vital the Arts Premium was delivered this year as promised. The funding would help schools to provide high quality arts programmes and extra-curricular activities for pupils – including those delivered with arts organisations – as well as supporting teachers to deliver engaging and creative lessons in the arts.
He also urged Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to publish his long-awaited National Plan for Music Education to encourage music in schools and help nurture the talent pipeline on which the music industry depends.
UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on children’s learning and music education has been amongst the hardest hit. As children return to school, it’s mission critical that music education is put front and centre of the efforts to catch-up.
“It’s vital that all children have a good musical education – not just because of the positive benefits on other subjects, or the important mental health and wellbeing impacts, but because the UK’s world-leading music industry relies on a strong talent pipeline. That pipeline has been badly damaged over the past year, and so it’s imperative we now do what we can to protect and strengthen it.
“Delivering the 2019 manifesto commitment for an Arts Premium would help schools deliver the high quality music education that children deserve.
“The UK music industry is a key national asset that generates billions for the economy every year and boosts our global reputation. It relies on nurturing emerging talent – so strengthening that crucial talent pipeline is undoubtedly in our national interest.
UK Music’s Director of Education and Skills, Dr Oliver Morris, said:
“We must ensure Covid doesn’t sound the death knell for music in schools and we urge the government to act decisively to protect it.
“Music has the power to provide a lot of positivity in these difficult times as well as assist pupils in their reintroduction to school life. It is also often at the cutting edge of innovation.
“Now is the time for the Government to demonstrate its support for teachers, school leaders, music services and hubs and community music organisations.
“Music must remain a part of school life so no matter what a pupil’s socio-economic or geographical situation it is accessible to all.”
In February, the Government announced the appointment of Sir Kevan Collins as the government’s “education recovery commissioner”. He has been charged with overseeing “a comprehensive programme of catch-up aimed at young people who have lost out on learning due to the pandemic”.
The Government has said it will provide £300 million to provide more catch-up funding for schools, but teachers are awaiting details.
According to research carried out in October 2020 by Music Mark, which represents music education services and hubs, 84% of their members were working in fewer schools than at the same time in 2019.
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