Music is an entitlement for all children and is a foundation subject within the national curriculum for England. All children should experience a combination of classroom music teaching, singing and instrumental tuition. As funding becomes more stretched, it is important that we make the most of the resources available.
A feature of good and outstanding schools is that pupils from all backgrounds enjoy sustained musical opportunities through regular classroom work and music-making for all, complemented by additional tuition, partnerships and extracurricular activities.
The current emphasis on the importance of a ‘broad and balanced’ school curriculum has led many of the schools we work with to review their music provision.
Ofsted inspections have included several music deep dives and the depth of questioning reflects how important a role music plays in schools. Offering music tuition beyond a first access programme should be seen as essential rather than desirable.
In her review of the impact of musical activities on intellectual, social and personal development, The Power of Music (Hallam, 2014) brings together several decades of research evidence that supports the case for music enhancing psychological well-being, school engagement, creativity, empathy, language and literacy, spatial awareness and numerous other skills and qualities.
Schools cannot be expected to do all that is required of music education alone which is why external provision is often a necessity depending on the skill set of school staff.
Every child must have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument at some point in Key Stage 2. Take advantage of the Music Education Grant that hubs receive to support the delivery of music tuition in your school, in addition to providing progression routes and ensembles out of school time.
Working with external providers for music tuition should complement your own school action plan for music and strong partnerships can ease the complexity of logistics eg fitting in sessions for small groups.
For example simple changes such as rotating teaching group times so that pupils do not always miss the same part of a timetabled class session in other areas of the curriculum or flexible lunchtimes may ease the situation.
The majority of schools that we are working with in our locality do not charge families for music tuition due to economic circumstances and many of these schools offer excellent programmes of continuing music tuition after first access / whole class tuition.
Several schools are skilled fundraisers for music, others use part of pupil premium funding to support gifted and talented students to make progress.
Offering externally provided music tuition within your school is possible – make it part of your vision, culture, music action plan and seek support from your local music hub. Every young person should be encouraged to begin their musical journey.
Lindsay Thomas is Head of Service for Music at One Education.