UK Music Warns A-Level Figures Reveal “Deepening Crisis” Facing Music Teaching And Orchestras

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher warned of a “deepening crisis” facing A-level music after the latest results revealed a 5.8 per cent drop

Page actions

15.08.19: UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher warned of a “deepening crisis” facing A-level music after the latest results today (Thursday) revealed a 5.8 per cent drop in the number of pupils taking the subject in England.

The new figures from examinations regulator OFQUAL reveal the number of students taking A-level music fell from 5,440 in 2018 to 5,125 this year. The figure is a sharp 5.8 per cent fall on the number who took A-level music in 2018 and is almost six times higher than the 1 per cent decrease in the overall number of students taking A-levels in 2019.

The fall is a significant blow to efforts to continue to generate our world-leading array professional musicians and teachers and seriously threatens the music industry’s talent pipeline. It also jeopardises the economic success story of the UK music industry which contributes £4.5 billion a year to the UK economy.

The new figures reveal the size of the drop in the number of students taking music A-level has almost doubled since last year to 5.8 per cent. A total of 5,440 students took A-level music in 2018 – a 3 per cent fall on the 5,610 students who took the subject in 2017.

Over the past five years, the number of people studying A-level music has declined sharply by an alarming 30 per cent from 7,355 in 2014 to 5,125 in 2019, while the total number of people studying A-levels dropped by only 4 per cent over the same period.

Commenting, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said:

“Congratulations to everyone on their A-level music results.

“However, this year’s A-level entry numbers reveal a deepening crisis facing music in education that needs urgent action from the Government.

“There is yet again a worrying drop in the number of people studying music to A-level, which seriously jeopardises the talent pipeline on which our industry relies.

“It is particularly bad news for our efforts to continue to produce highly skilled and talented professionals who often go on to teach music or play in one of the UK’s world-leading orchestras.

“Children from all backgrounds should have access to the music. There is also strong evidence to suggest that young people who are engaged in their education through music fare better at maths and English.

“There is a vital economic reason to ensure music is available in all schools, especially as the creative industries contribute more than £100 billion to our economy. The UK music industry alone generates £4.5 billion towards the UK economy.”


This year’s GCSE results showed that GCSE music as a proportion of all entries has stayed the same at 0.7 per cent. There is a year-to-year decline for music GCSE at 2.15 per cent but it is less stark than in previous years which was 7 per cent – 8 per cent. The total number of GCSE entries have continue to grow slightly.

OFQUAL statistics on A-level results can be found here.

• Research from the Musicians’ Union uncovered that families with a total household income of less than £28,000 are half as likely to have a child learning an instrument as more affluent peers with a family income of £48,000 or more. Read the MU research here:

• According to BPI research, 89 per cent of independent schools run a choir in lunchtime or after-school compared to only 60 per cent of the most disadvantaged state schools. Read the BPI research here:

• The same study indicated 12 per cent of the most deprived schools have an orchestra, compared to 85 per cent of independent schools.

• According to UK Music’s 2018 report ‘Securing Our Talent Pipeline’, 17 per cent of music creators were educated at independent schools, compared to only 7 per cent across the population as a whole. Read UK Music’s report here:

• Our report also revealed 46 per cent of music creators received financial help from friends and family to support the development of their career.

• 50 per cent of children at independent schools receive sustained music tuition, whilst the figure for state schools is only 15 per cent.

Read More

Dail Mail

The Independent

BBC News

Record of the Day


Arts Professional

Press and Journal


Shropshire Star

This Is Money

Surrey Comet

St Albans & Harpenden Review

Harrow Times

Hampshire Chronicle

Ealing Times

Bracknell Times

Basingstoke Gazette

Whitehaven News

Bolton News

Bromsgrove Advertiser

Dorset Echo


Runcorn and Widnes

Banbury Cake

Watford Observer

Dudley News

Wiltshire Times

Redditch Advertiser

Kidderminster Shuttle

Ludlow Advertiser

Worcester News

Baliwick Express

Witney Gazette

Stourbridge News

Keighley News

Winsford Guardian

Back to news