UK Music calls for pause on plans to withdraw funding from post-16 music qualifications

Amrit Virdi
Friday, February 2, 2024

Some 30,000 young people are set to be affected by plans to defund vocational Level 3 qualifications for music by 2026.

Adobe Stock / lovelyday12

UK Music’s interim chief executive Tom Kiehl has urged Education Secretary Gillian Keegan to pause plans to defund Level 3 music qualifications for 1619 year-olds. The government has planned a phased pause in funding for the qualifications over the next two years.

In a letter to the Cabinet Minister, Kiehl states: ‘In the absence of a T-Level for Music, defunding for existing qualifications places a massive administrative burden on many in the music education sector, with qualifications having to be rewritten as Alternative Academic Qualifications (AAQs) and approved by the Department for Education.  

‘This could leave the approximately 30,000 young people a year that study vocational music qualifications with the main providers RSL Awarding Body, Pearson (BTEC), NCFE, and University of the Arts London (UAL) Awarding Body without a viable alternative.’

The letter calls for: ‘an immediate pause in the withdrawing of funding for all music qualifications that are due to be effectively ''turned off'' by 2026’ and ‘a meeting with you [Keegan] and a representative group of impacted music education providers to find a way forward.’

Kiehl's letter explains that pausing the funding will leave a void of alternative qualifications to A Level, less support for students wanting to explore this pathway, and will hit the UK music industry.

UK Music’s director of education and skills, Dr Oliver Morris, said: ‘I implore the government to take a breath and not to plough ahead with this damaging timescale. Young people and educational professionals are facing an awful time ahead with the issues around defunding of current vocational music qualifications over next two years. These qualifications help set young people on the path to creative industry careers and frankly often offer hope to those who find other routes stultifying or inaccessible.’