Music education: call for evidence – have you responded?

In February, the Department for Education (DfE) published a call for evidence, seeking views on music education, to inform their proposals for the refresh of the National Plan for Music Education (NPME).

This call for evidence will gather views on what is working in the current iteration of the NPME and areas which should be built on in refreshing the National Plan for Music Education.

The DfE is specifically looking for views from:

Parents and carers
Young people
Primary schools
Secondary schools
Further Education (FE) and sixth-form colleges
School and college staff, including governors
National and local voluntary and community organisations providing musical activities for children and young people
Music Education Hubs and other music services
Employers in the music industry
Other educational professionals including academics and researchers

What are the ISM recommending for the future of music education?
As outlined in a wealth of significant research studies including from the APPG for Music Education, University of Sussex, NEU, BBC, the DCMS Select Committee, the CBI and others, music education is at risk of disappearing from our schools. It is vital that the Government acts quickly to ensure music does not become the preserve of a privileged few.

Our recommendations – which you can use to inform your own responses to the call for evidence – are as follows:

Recommendation 1

Schools should receive clear guidance that headline accountability measures must not erode the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum at Key Stage 3, and that a broad and balanced curriculum must be delivered across all schools at all Key Stages. Music and the arts are at the heart of a broad and balanced curriculum.

Recommendation 2

Music should be taught by a subject specialist teacher as part of the curriculum in all state schools for all pupils for at least one hour every week across all of a three-year Key Stage 3. All secondary schools should have at least one full time music teacher who exclusively teaches music.

Recommendation 3

The English Baccalaureate and Progress 8 accountability measures should be reviewed and reformed to provide a better education for our children. At the very least a sixth pillar should be added to the EBacc for the creative subjects, including music.

Recommendation 4

The Government should scrap the 2018 introduction of the ‘average points score’ measure for the EBacc.

Recommendation 5

The Government should broaden the National Curriculum by making individual creative subjects including music entitlement areas at Key Stage 4, replacing the broader entitlement area of ‘the arts’.

Recommendation 6

The Government should encourage all schools to embed a culture of singing via classroom teaching.

Recommendation 7

Ofsted and the Government should make it clear that delivering only the narrow curriculum prescribed by the EBacc will have an adverse impact on inspections and evaluations.

Recommendation 8

The new National Plan for Music Education must provide clarity as to the roles and responsibilities of schools and Hubs relating to the delivery of a music education for all pupils.

Recommendation 9

The revised National Plan for Music Education should address the quality, provision and access to music education for Early Years and SEND, and improve signposting of music education opportunities for 18 to 25-year-olds.

Recommendation 10

The metrics for measuring the work delivered in response to the NPME need to be revised to go beyond ‘levels of activity’ reported through the current narrow set of metrics. The quality of the work being delivered needs to be part of this evaluation work.

Recommendation 11

The Government should maintain or increase the annual £75 million of ring-fenced funding for Hubs beyond 2020/21.

Recommendation 12

Ofsted must look for evidence of sutained and high-quality musical learning across the curriculum at all key stages, instead of focusing heavily on accountability measures imposed by the Government that have shown to be failing. They must be responsible for ensuring that a full and balanced curriculum is being delivered regularly in all schools.

Recommendation 13

Ofsted should reconsider their proposal contained in Education inspection framework 2019: inspecting the substance of education in connection with their approach to the EBacc. We urge them to drop their proposal that inspectors understand what schools are doing to prepare for the EBacc to be achieved, and they should take those perparations into consideration when evaluating the intent of the school’s curriculum.

Recommendation 14

Ensure that as per the Government policy directive in 2016, classroom teachers teach within their area of specialism and that this is respected.

commendation 15

Ensure that all teachers are supported to access regular and relevant high-quality subject-specific CPD, and improve the working conditions of the workforce.

Recommendation 16

Ensure that there is a sufficient number of properly qualified teachers coming through to support the delivery of music education in our schools and Hubs.

Recommendation 17

Secondary music should be treated as a shortage subject, and greater efforts and financial incentives applied to attract high-quality candidates onto the ITE/ITT programmes

Recommendation 18

The Government must ensure that primary teachers have access to high-quality, relevant and practical subject-specific learning opportunities relating to teaching the music curriculum through their training, NQT period and beyond. In line with other subjects, funded subject-knowledge enhancement courses should be developed and offered through partnerships with ITE providers in higher education.

For further information to create your own answers to the call for evidence, you can access reports State of the Nation and The Future of Music Education by clicking on the buttons below.

Issue date

The consultation was issued on 9 February 2020 and closes on Friday 13 March 2020.


If your enquiry is related to the policy content of the call for evidence you can contact the DfE music policy team by email: [email protected]

If your enquiry is related to the DfE e-consultation website or the consultation process in general, you can contact the DfE Ministerial and Public Communications Division by email: [email protected] or by telephone: 0370 000 2288 or via the DfE Contact us page.

Additional copies

Additional copies are available electronically and can be downloaded from GOV.UK DfE consultations.

The response

This call for evidence closes at 11.59pm on 13 March 2020. The results of the call for evidence and the Department’s response will be published on GOV.UK later in 2020.