Youth Music welcomes the government’s newly published National Plan for Music Education – the first such plan to be produced. It admirably picks up and builds upon the most significant recommendations from the Henley Review of Music Education and sets out a clear vision and structure for achieving good musical experiences for children more consistently across the country.
The development of music education hubs, through strong emphasis on partnership working will be the culmination of much good work that has been going on across the sector over the past few years and if the aspirations behind the words are realised, children really will get a more holistic, better joined up and really engaging offer. More work will need to be done in order to ensure that young musicians’ individual journeys for progression are well supported – holistically, cumulatively and in directions best suited for them – with a broader range of opportunities for young people to realise their own potential for excellence than are referenced in the Plan.
Schools will be the central focus for guaranteeing a certain level of music education provision for all or most children. For this to be really embedded and secure, we hope for a positive outcome in relation to music's continued place within the National Curriculum and welcome the positive indications on this that the Plan gives. The Plan talks about opportunities both in and out of school and it is to be hoped that these will become inter-connected and themselves provide meaningful, appropriate routes for progression for pupils. Schools will also benefit from being able to draw upon a wider range of services and will be in a good position to collaborate with hubs on developing a strong local understanding of the needs of their students and be better equipped to meet them.
The training commitments for teachers and practitioners as set out in the plan are also very much to be welcomed and long overdue.
Of course, it will be a challenge for the sector to make the aspirations behind the Plan a reality, not least within a shrinking funding allocation and wider prevailing negative economic environment. However, the formation of hubs ought to make it possible to lever in and make better use of what resources are available from relevant sources and, operating holistically, make the money go further.
Youth Music's funding – how it fits
The recently launched Youth Music Programme – our Network and Funding opportunities - make important contributions to the Plan and to making real an increasingly joined up and navigable offer, putting support and specialism behind an offer which can genuinely be for all children and young people. Our modular approach will help organisations to build on their strengths and structure programmes of work most appropriate for the children and young people they serve whilst forming an essential part of the overall provision as set out in the Plan.
Our intention is that the Youth Music Programme responds strongly to the challenges and opportunities that lie before us - as an organisation and as a sector - and will support the development of young players, singers and performers, young creators and young leaders and will contribute to helping the sector to meet the needs of - and achieve really positive outcomes for - all children and young people.
For all further information and guidance on the Youth Music Programme, please visit www.youthmusic.org.uk/network.