by Author Bridget Whyte

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Summary of Current Music Education Guidance - Music Mark

Music Mark is a membership organisation, subject association and charity for individuals and organisations working in music education across the UK. We believe that there should be excellent musical learning in and out of school for all children and young people in the UK, which inspires and enriches their lives. Our primary aim is to support our membership in their work to achieve a high quality, diverse and inclusive music education. Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic we have been reading the latest to research and guidance on how Music Education can continue. Our latest campaign #CanDoMusic, alongside the ISM and the Music Teachers Association, focusses on the ways in which music can continue in schools. You can find out more at On the 10th September our CEO Bridget Whyte sent advice to our membership on the latest Department for Education guidance and the latest advice in light of the introduction of the rule of 6. We’re sharing it with Youth Music here in the hope that we can support the widest possible cross-section of the music education community.

"I am writing to our full Membership with this update as I think that all of you will value some thoughts on the guidance which is flying around Whitehall, especially in light of the new plan of limited contact inside and out to just 6 in England. 

Before I go any further however I appreciate of course that within our membership we have Members outside England and/or who work across the UK nations and internationally. For those that are working beyond England, please rest assured that we are trying to get further guidance to share where there are uncertainties within what is being published in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland etc, so please accept my apologies if this is not particularly helpful for you.  And please get in touch if you do need help and advice beyond that we have published in our Music Unlocked guidance

As you may be aware, there are many different pieces of guidance from the English government which may apply to your work (and all of these listed below have been updated recently so if you’ve not taken a look in the last couple of weeks please don’t assume the guidance is the same as before!):

School guidance

Guidance for Special Schools

Out of School Hours Guidance

DCMS guidance for performing arts

HE Guidance

FE Guidance

Early Years Guidance

General COVID-19 guidance updated in line with the new measures being put in place.

We know that this can make things confusing and we are here to try and help!

For most of our Membership the key documents to read are the schools guidance – for activity within the school day – and the out of school hours (OOSS) guidance which is for after school and weekend activities such as ensembles, music centres etc. For some of you of course other guidance will be useful and indeed you may be aware of other documents which I have missed off the list!

In terms of what all this guidance is telling you and what it means for the activities you want to resume, here are some headlines which I hope will help:

1. We have updated Music Unlocked – please do read this as it is likely to answer many of your questions.

2. It remains that this virus is spreading and ways to stop that happening are many, but the simple rules of social distancing, ventilation and sanitising are probably at the heart of what you might do.

3. Research has demonstrated that except for perhaps the Flute and the Trombone all instruments and singing are safe to resume if children and young people are kept at 2 meters apart.  It is however recommended that the leader/conductor considers 3 metres or more if they can as they are, generally, facing the group.  Additional safety measures such as masks or screens for the leader may well be worth considering in some cases.

4. Aerosols build up over time so be careful not to run activities for significant periods without allowing breaks to ‘air’ the room – consider the size of the room (not just floor space but also ceiling height) and the number of participants. 

5. In school, pupils are being taught in ‘Bubbles’.  These bubbles are not socially distanced (to enable lessons to resume in standard classrooms etc) and a music tutor can teach a ‘bubble’.  Again they should – especially as a visiting teacher – socially distance from the ‘bubble’, but the children in that bubble don’t need to do so. 

6. In out of school hours activity however children are expected to socially distance.  It is not expected that additional ‘bubbles’ will be created where social distancing does not apply.  It is also within the DfE guidance that OOSS activity must not be in groups of more than 15.  There is a discrepancy between the DfE guidance and the DCMS guidance here in that no maximum number is given for amateur or professional music making, but with the new ruling which comes into play on Monday 14th September, we believe the DCMS guidance may well be updated again. We would therefore suggest that the maximum of 15 is what you should adhere to. OOSS guidance which says that more than one activity can take place in a large space – ie two or more socially distanced groups of 15 in one space (such as a school hall or gym) – is again perhaps confusing, but we do understand that it does not mean you can put your ensemble into a set of groups and work with all of them simultaneously.

7. The new guidance that no more than 6 people can meet indoors or outside does not apply to Music Education activity regardless of whether it is part of curriculum learning or is an OOSS activity – all education activity covered by the DfE guidance is exempt from this ruling (despite the likelihood that the DCMS guidance may well have to be updated).

We appreciate that finding ways to make educational activities possible whilst still trying to contain the spread of the virus is really challenging, but I am hopeful that the above will help you to plan and set up activity (live, blended or online). 

Bridget Whyte, Music Mark CEO"