Thanks for the 18 million....but...

The DfE press release about the additional 18 million that the government has put into music education for 14/15 has confused me. I actually got a little angry so apologies in advance if this comes across as slightly petulant.

I don't object to an increase in funding and quotes such as "No education can be complete without the arts and music playing a central role" from Nick Gibb are very encouraging. However, it really grinds my gears when I read things like "in the 2012 to 2013 academic year, the first year of music hubs, nearly 80,000 disadvantaged pupils and more than 30,000 pupils with special educational needs took part in instrumental ensembles and choirs, demonstrating the impact of the hubs."

Are we living in the dark ages? Since when was quantity voted in over quality? How on earth does that demonstrate impact?

And the thing that got a physical reaction from me (blood pressure rising, fists clenching, teeth grinding, etc) was this: "We’ve also seen more entries at GCSE in 2014 than the previous year, reflecting our ambition to give every child the opportunity to play and enjoy music."

I have to apologise to the government of the UK for completely misunderstanding the purpose of music education. I thought it was to help children and young people develop a love of music and become happy, confident, creative and self-actualised human beings. But, apparently, all we want is more kids doing something - anything - musical.

The rational part of me (and it is quite a small part, as I type) whispers that more GCSE music takeup cannot be a bad thing and I know that's true. But people read this stuff and take it as gospel. As Ken Robinson, paraphrased by Siggy Patchitt, put it: They are making what's measurable important and broadcasting it to the nation, while we are sweating over trying to make what's important measurable. But what's the point? If all that gets churned out the other end is how many people did stuff.

Never before have I felt less gratefull for 18 million quid!

(The authors would like to apologise if any of the above comments are offensive, innacurate, or just plain ignorant.)

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anita holford's picture

I'm sure you've spoken what many of us are feeling Siggy, thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. There's also the question of whether this additional money will be distributed to hubs (if so whether it will be on a per-pupil or even on that takes into account inclusion) or whether it will be taken up with other music education initiatives or central work.

Does anyone know yet when hubs funding allocations for 15/16 will be announced? I think last I heard it was October?

Siggy Patchitt's picture

Thanks Anita, I have heard nothing as of yet. I vote we spend it all on getting Musical Inclusivity into the MEH's.

Julie Wright's picture

You both certainly speak for me, and many of my colleagues, both freelancers and teachers in schools. Will Youth Music be making a public response to this? Oh - and Siggy, the blogs that interest me most are those that are written with passion, don't ever apologise for that :)

Matt Griffiths's picture

Hi Julie,

We don’t intend to put out a formal response on the back of the DfE announcement on Tuesday. Any additional funding for the sector is of course good news.

Nevertheless, Siggy has made some interesting points in his blog (thanks for sharing your views Siggy). Getting funding is one thing, but at the end of the day, it’s what you do with it that counts. We are really pleased that so many projects we support are taking steps to embed an outcomes approach in their work. Ultimately, being outcomes-focused puts young people at the centre, and the way to influence hubs is to lead by example, as many of our partners are currently doing.

As Anita mentions, as far as we know the specific 2015/16 budget allocations for music education hubs will be announced in October.

Best wishes all,


Music Education Council's picture

You'll have read MEC Chair Dick Hallam's blog in response to the funding announcement. He says:
Funding and policy matter. But it is what we in the music education sector actually do that ultimately counts for the young people. It is up to each and every one of us to stand up for quality music education and to be realistic about what precious public funding can achieve. We must agree what best practice looks like and emulate it, taking full account of our differing local contexts.
And so, with the passion that you express in your blog, it is really important that you remain part of the MEC discussions on the music education sector's strategy for delivering that quality music education.