The shifting politics behind music education

The reducing allocation of Local Authority funding to support music education has been a long term theme in my blog. However, there was one further aspect of the potential cuts to music education that I didn’t write about in the previous post.  This relates to the relocation of music education to the DCMS and most notably, of course, Arts Council England.

This was something I first wrote about in 2011 in response to some comments made by Marc Jaffrey (the Music Manifesto ‘champion’ – do you remember him, or that?). In his response to the National Plan for Music Education, Marc wrote that:

[…] whether the very shifts outlined above, notably the moving of the Fund allocation process from the DfE to ACE, is symbolic of a distancing of the subject of music from the DfE’s corridors of power? There are those who will comment in the coming days that what I see as a strength is in fact the very opposite. If Gove cares generally about music education as I contest, how specific is that commitment when it comes to maintaining music in schools and in the classroom? (my emphasis)

The potential removal of music education funding from the Education Services Grant (ESG) is, perhaps, the final stage in this process. If it proceeds, music education will have completed its move out of the control of the DfE and into the control of the DCMS/Arts Council England (both organisations with an unsure future). From there, it is too easily sidelined as being part of cultural enrichment or arts provision and not seen as core to the educational entitlement that every child ought to have access to as part of their compulsory schooling.

Whilst the battle to have have Music included in the National Curriculum has been won, although it is a shallow victory given the paucity of the Programme of Study that has been written, the issues about who is required to teach Music and through what means is far from over. It seems very likely that music education will not form part of a Local Authority’s ‘educational service’ for much longer. I fear that if music education is not seen as part of ‘education’ in the future, that this will have many worrying consequences. Can anyone tell me about any other curriculum subject that has been distanced so quickly from the remit of the DfE?


Jon Savage

NB: This was reposted from Jon’s blog ‘supporting innovation in education.’ Read it here.


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