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What the national plan for music education means for children and young people

What is the national plan for music education?

What the national plan for music education means for children and young people was published by the UK government on 20 January 2023 as a guide for schools and parents. This blog will summarise the main ideas found in the document and highlight the key takeaways for schools, parents, children and young people.

Why should children study music?

Within the classroom, schools should make sure that class music lessons are available for all children and young people. The focus of these class music lessons should be on learning about music, and providing children and young people with the opportunity to play musical instruments and make music together.

Music plays a key role in brain development and helps to develop language, motor skills, emotional intelligence and the ability to collaborate. In fact, it has been proven that studying music will help every child with ALL of the skills they need to learn successfully in EVERY subject, as well as supporting their emotional development and wellbeing.

Parents and school leaders often question the importance of studying music when it ‘won’t lead to a job after school’. However, pre-pandemic, the music industry generated £2.9 billion in exports and supported 200,000 jobs. So, whilst a job in professional music making might not be a chosen career path for every child, studying music opens doors and opportunities that would otherwise remain closed AND contributes a significant amount of money to economic growth across the UK.

Do all schools provide music education?

Schools should provide great music education for all children and young people, irrespective of their background.

Many schools do well to provide a rich and varied music curriculum, but some schools are still struggling to provide the opportunities set out in the national plan for music. All schools need to be providing music education and in cases where they are not, children and young people need to be asking for it and parents need to be demanding it!

How do you access music lessons outside of school?

Where children and young people have an interest in music - be that in rock, pop, classical, non-western, or any other genre, local music hubs and schools should provide children support in:

  • Taking music lessons for instruments or singing outside of school
  • Joining groups, orchestras, or choirs out of school
  • Performing out of school making their own music and learning music in their own time
  • Sharing music they have composed, created, or recorded in a live concert or online
  • Going to live concerts and listen to music by their peers, local community, or professionals

Music hubs are networks of music organisations that support schools in providing a rich and varied musical experience for all children and young people. You can find out more about music hubs through the Arts Council website.

What is an ‘inclusive’ music curriculum?

Like all other aspects of education, a good music education is inclusive – open to every child and young person. Music education is also inclusive in that ALL types of music-making are valued. However your child loves expressing themselves through music, there will be opportunities available for them.

To find out more, schools should contact their music hub and parents should contact their child’s music teacher. Children and young people can also speak to their music teachers to find out about projects and schemes they can get involved in and discover what support is available.

Can I get support with costs and fees for music lessons?

Learning music can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. There are a wide range of organisations that can support parents, children and young people with costs involved in engaging with music, including:

  • Costs for musical instruments, lessons, and rehearsal spaces
  • Financial support to take part in activities with youth music organisations beyond school

The important thing here is for schools to know that these avenues of support exist so that they can direct students and parents to the right source of funding; and that parents, children and young people are aware of these sources of support and are courageous enough to engage with them.

Further information and resources

If you’re looking for more information on the national plan for music education and accessing music provision for your child, watching our free webinar is the perfect way to find answers to questions.

You can also find resources and information to:

  • Support young people to make music beyond school.
  • Help young people find an internship or apprenticeship in the music sector.
  • Discover organisations offering careers advice for the music industry and wider creative sector