Music Education

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 6:38 pm ar 19 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education) 6:38, 19 Mawrth 2024

I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Michael Ellis on securing a debate on this important subject, and on what is an unusually well-attended Adjournment debate. I thank all his colleagues—all our colleagues—from Northamptonshire for being here. My right hon. and learned Friend is a former arts Minister, and I commend him on the great work he did in that role, including his very important work on public libraries as well as on music. I know that music is a subject very close to his heart, as it is to the hearts of so many of us in this place, including my own.

My right hon. and learned Friend mentioned my predecessor, my right hon. Friend Nick Gibb. As our right hon. Friend has often said, studying and engaging with music is not a privilege, but a vital part of a broad and ambitious curriculum. All pupils should have access to an excellent music education and all the knowledge and joy it brings. This is why music is part of the national curriculum for all maintained schools from the age of five to 14, and why the Government expect that academies should teach music as part of their statutory requirement to promote pupils’ cultural development.

Music, like every subject, is generally funded by schools through their core budget. In the November 2022 autumn statement, we announced an additional £2 billion in each of 2023-24 and 2024-25, over and above the totals that had been announced at the 2021 spending review. In July 2023, we announced an additional £525 million this year to support schools with the teachers’ pay award, and £900 million in 2024-25. The Government have continued to provide additional funding, over and above school budgets, to enable children and young people to access high-quality music and arts education. From 2016 to 2022 we invested £714 million, and we are investing £115 million per year up to 2025. Altogether, since 2016, this sums to close to £1 billion for a diverse portfolio of organisations over those years.

That sum includes £79 million a year for music hubs, as was mentioned by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton North and by Barbara Keeley, who is no longer in her place. Hubs provide specialist music education services to around 87% of state-funded schools, and over £30 million a year goes to the music and dance scheme, which provides means-tested bursaries to over 2,000 young people showing the greatest potential in those art forms. It also includes a growing cohort of national youth music organisations, with new additions such as the National Open Youth Orchestra, which works with young disabled people, and UD, which runs programmes including Flames Collective, its flagship pre-vocational creative development programme. It was great to see Flames Collective perform with Raye at this year’s Brits. As part of the refreshed plan, the Government continue to invest £79 million a year in music hubs, as well as providing an additional £25 million of funding for musical instruments.

On the teachers’ pension scheme—the TPS, as it is commonly known—the Department for Education has secured £1.25 billion to support eligible settings with the increased employer contribution rate in financial year 2024-25. That will mean additional funding of £9.3 million for local authorities for centrally employed teachers, including those employed in local authority-based music hubs. The Department has published the details of the additional funding for mainstream schools, high needs and local authorities with centrally employed teachers. I can also confirm that the Department is committed to providing funding to cover the increase in employer contribution rates for existing non-local authority hubs for the current academic year—that is, until August 2024—and officials are working to agree the precise amount. Further details, including funding rates and allocations, will be provided soon.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton North will know there is a music hubs competition in progress. Following its conclusion, which is due to be announced next month, the Department will work with Arts Council England to set final grant allocations for the newly competed hub lead organisations that will take over from September. As part of that work, due consideration will be given to additional pension pressures due to the increase in employer contributions through the TPS.

We know that, while potential is equally spread throughout the country, opportunity is not. As part of levelling up, our plan is to provide an additional £2 million of funding to support the delivery of a music progression programme. This programme will support up to 1,000 disadvantaged pupils to learn how to play an instrument or sing to a high standard over a sustained period. Further details about the programme will be announced in the coming weeks, once a national delivery partner has been appointed.

We know that many schools across the country deliver first-rate music lessons to pupils and offer high-quality extracurricular activities as well. However, we are also aware that there are some areas where music provision may be more limited, and to address this a refreshed national plan for music education was published in June 2022. That plan clearly sets out the ambition of the Government up to 2030 that every child, regardless of circumstance, needs or geography, should have access to a high-quality music education—to learn to sing, play an instrument and create music together and have the opportunity to progress their musical interests and talents.