David Blunkett calls government music plan ‘dishonest’

David Blunkett has called the government “dishonest” for claiming that its music education review offers more while it actually includes cuts of £16 million.

The former education secretary under the Labour government hit out at the National Plan for Music Education, which was published in November, and criticised the lack of places for music students at higher education institutions.

He even called on high profile musicians to speak out against the proposals.

When it was published last year, the government’s music education plan pledged to give every child in England the opportunity to learn a musical instrument through the creation of new ‘hubs’ across the country.

The Department for Education (DfE) said that funding for music education would be £111.6 million in 2011-12.

However, the plan was met with scepticism by many musicians and teachers as the funding is actually a cut of £16 million, or 12.5 per cent in the past year.

This means that there will also be fewer government-funded places for postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE) courses in music, Mr Blunkett recently highlighted.

He cited figures which show that in 2010-11, there were 555 government-funded courses in music teaching but in 2011-12 there are just 315.

“To claim more, while offering less, is dishonest and the kind of politics which reinforces cynicism amongst the public,” Mr Blunkett said.

“Government cuts, coupled with the near demolition of the role of local government in music education, is reversing both the progress made and the equality of treatment which has been achieved.”

He claimed the cutbacks would “undermine the life chances of youngsters, not merely in accessing the wonderful creative opportunity and use of talent but also the spin-off effect of music teaching of attainment in other key subject areas”.

In defence of the proposals, a spokesman from the DfE told the Huffington Post that funding has been withdrawn for one-off projects, while long-term external funding has been allocated to schemes such as Sing Up.

He added that the figures do not “tell the full story” and called the existing system “complex and totally inefficient”.

What is your view on the National Plan for Music Education? Will it improve or worsen music education in the UK?

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  1. Anonymous says

    In my experience music in Schools favours those whose parents made them have lessons in something when they were younger while leaving everyone else fall by the wayside.

  2. Emma Cooper says

    The National Music Plan presents a very positive message about the importance of music in schools, one which has been widely welcomed. It presents a vision for more equal music education provision, and for all children to have access to learn an instrument and be part of some form of choir during their schooling. The Government’s draft framework further backs music in schools by retaining a place for it on the mandatory curriculum at KS2 and KS3, and suggests a statutory requirement for Arts provision at KS4. There are far more opportunities now than when I was at school for students with a range of interests and not just those who play traditional orchestral instruments – for example the Music BTEC and Music Practitioner qualifications, which have been kept on the shortlist of vocational qualifications contributing to league tables (until 2014 at least), Music Technology, fast growing in popularity, and students can even beatbox or DJ for their GCSE in Music.

    While there are significant cuts in funding on the way, we are, after all, in times of economic difficulty. It is hoped that the new Hubs system will help organisations and practitioners in music education make more efficient use of the funding available. Through collaborative ventures, hubs will augment music in schools “so that more children experience a combination of classroom teaching, instrumental and vocal tuition and input from professional musicians” (NMP). Hubs will also endeavour to provide “high quality, coherent and comprehensive” music education, to quote Jonathan Savage, whose Hub bid I have been following with interest on his blog – looking at the exciting and wide-ranging list of partners involved in the Cheshire East bid demonstrates how these hubs could really maximise the possibilities and reach of music education for all students.