Andrew Lloyd Webber is backing plans to develop a new government blueprint for music education in the UK, which promises to benefit all children “regardless of their background”.
The plans have been praised by Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley and Lloyd Webber, who said he hoped the move would mark “the beginning of seeing music back where it belongs as a central part of our schools’ curriculum”.
Experts from the fields of both music and education, as well as young people and their parents, are being asked to submit evidence to a consultation, particularly around areas including inclusivity, music technology and music education hubs, which will help inform a new national plan for music education.
The Department for Education said it wanted to use the new national plan to “reassess” the music education experienced by children at school.
However, the announcement comes amid ongoing fears from creative education experts about the decline of music and arts teaching on the curriculum due to the English Baccalaureate, and the impact of school funding pressures on cultural experiences for young people in state education.
Lloyd Webber, who has been outspoken over the need to protect the arts in schools, said accessing free music education on the curriculum must be a right for every child.
He added: “I am very pleased that the Department For Education has taken on board the proven achievements of the Music in Secondary Schools Trust. Under its aegis, 8,000 children now have full access to music whereas before there was none. Parents report that their children now have pride in their accomplishments and that their self-esteem, confidence and self-worth have grown.”
Last month, the government confirmed £85 million of funding for the continuation of its music and arts programmes, and has also promised the implementation of an arts pupil premium for secondary schools.
The refreshed national plan will be published in the autumn and will be the first major update to the current 2011 plan, which established music education hubs.
Announcing the move, schools minister Nick Gibb said: “All children, regardless of their background, should get the opportunity to play musical instruments, learn to sing and learn how to read and write music in the classroom.
“I want to continue to level up opportunities so all young people can get the best out of their music education. We can only achieve this if we reflect on the latest advances in music and work together with experts in the music industry, specialist teachers, as well as reflecting on young people’s experiences.”
Henley also welcomed the DfE’s plans: “The government’s commitment to a new national plan for music education is an exciting step in nurturing the next generation of creative talent across England. These young people will go on to become the music industry professionals and the audiences of the future. It’s important that everyone who cares about music takes part in this consultation so that all young people get the chance to fulfil their musical potential.”