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ISM welcomes the refreshed National Plan for Music Education

The Department for Education and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have released the refreshed National Plan for Music Education (NPME), titled ‘The power of music to change lives’.

The music education sector has been waiting for the refreshed Plan for England ahead of the next academic year.

Subject association for music, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), welcomed the Plan while committing to examine the detail closely.

Key announcements in the refreshed NPME include:

    • Key Stages 1-3 should have at least one hour per week of 'high quality' curriculum music
    • Tens of thousands of pupils will be given the chance to learn a musical instrument, with new funding worth £25 million for schools to purchase musical instruments and equipment available.
    • £79 million made available every year until 2025 for the Music Hubs programme
    • Every school will be expected to have a designated music lead or head of department
    • Every school should write and publish a 'Music Development Plan', including information on how music is staffed and funded

    The ISM is particularly glad to see the Plan confirm that music should be a key part of the curriculum, which is something the ISM has been campaigning on for many years.

    In their ministerial foreword to the Plan, Minister for School Standards, Robin Walker MP and Minister for the Arts, Lord Parkinson state ‘Excellent music education opens opportunities, but it is not simply a means to an end: it is also an end in itself. It gives children and young people an opportunity to express themselves, to explore their creativity, to work hard at something, persevere and shine. These experiences and achievements stay with them and shape their lives.

    That is why music is an essential part of a broad and ambitious curriculum for all pupils. It must not be the preserve of the privileged few. Music should be planned and taught as robustly as any other foundation curriculum subject, as exemplified in the Model Music Curriculum we published last year.'

    Responding to the refreshed Plan, ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said, ‘The refreshed National Plan has been years in the works and we’re glad that it has been released today.

    The ISM will take time to review the document forensically and listen to the views of teachers. However, on first reading there looks to be much we can welcome and that our members will be pleased to see included within it. The Plan states that music should be a key part of the school curriculum, which is something that we are very pleased with.

    We believe that the Plan would be improved if music teachers, parents and other experts had the opportunity to feed in their views on the contents of the Plan through official consultation.

    To really grow music in schools, we need urgent reform to accountability measures and greater funding for music in schools. We saw clearly in our recent report ‘Music: a subject in peril?’ the huge financial pressures on music education in schools through underfunding. That report also recommended urgent reforms to accountability measures such as the EBacc and Progress 8, which have contributed to the decline in music education in schools.

    The ISM would like to thank the members of the expert panel and government officials who have clearly worked incredibly hard on the Plan we have in front of us today.