Music industry calls for 'urgent action' after teacher training funding cuts

Harriet Clifford
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Following the news that the DfE has cut postgraduate bursaries for initial teacher training (ITT) in Music, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), Music Teachers’ Association (MTA) and Music Mark have again collaborated on a letter to the government as part of their #CanDoMusic campaign.

Monkey Business

No arts subjects were included in the 2021-22 initial teacher training funding list. Subjects for which funding has been provided are chemistry, computing, maths, physics, languages, classics and biology.

The joint letter to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, calls for urgent action to be taken to prevent music disappearing entirely from many schools.

It focuses on several key points, including that government targets for teacher recruitment have been missed for the past seven years and that the ISM’s State of the Nation report highlighted that music is no longer taught across the three years of Key Stage 3 in half of state-funded secondary schools. 

Also emphasised is that there has been a 20% decline in the numbers of students being able to take GCSE Music since 2015 and it is now the fastest disappearing subject at A Level, with a 38% drop since 2010. 

Bridget White, the CEO of Music Mark, said, ‘If the pathway into the [music teaching] profession is restricted to those who can afford to train, the music education ecosystem in many schools will be severely affected. The government must reconsider their decision or their expectation that every student will have access to a broad and balanced curriculum which includes music (as well as other arts and humanities subjects) will become a postcode lottery.’ 

President of the MTA Simon Toyne said, ‘In schools, the single biggest influence on children and young people’s musicianship is the music teacher. Outstanding music teachers form outstanding music departments. And where there is an outstanding music department, the school itself is outstanding. 

‘The need to attract the finest musicians, representing the socio-economic and ethnic diversity of the country, to work as music teachers, is the greatest it has ever been. Unless urgent action is taken with teacher recruitment, we are concerned that music in schools will only be available to the schools fortunate enough to employ a music teacher out of an ever decreasing pool. It could disappear entirely from many schools.’ 

The letter can be read here

Read more information about Music uptake for GCSEs and A-levels.

Government statistics on recruitment to initial teacher training can be seen here.