£25m for instruments as music hubs and PE premium extended

Schools asked to "offer at least one hour of music curriculum a week”, with a 'music development plan' and music lead

Schools asked to "offer at least one hour of music curriculum a week”, with a 'music development plan' and music lead

25 Jun 2022, 0:01

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The Department for Education has promised £25 million in new funding for musical instruments, and extended funding for music hubs and primary PE and sports.

The goverment said the capital funding would allow schools to buy 200,000 instruments, as it unveiled new expectations of schools in its national music plan published today.

The DfE confirmed music hubs will continue to receive £79 million a year until 2025, with all expected to draft inclusion strategies and four hosting new national “centres of excellence”.

The government’s last music plan in 2011 sought to improve “patchy” music provision, but its long-awaited replacement admits it “remains patchy”.

Meanwhile government confirmed its £320 million PE and sports premium for primary schools will be extended for at least another year from September. It comes after academics and Ofsted recently questioned the programme’s value, however.

Schools need music leads and development plans, DfE says

The non-statutory National Plan for Music Education published today.says music should be “represented in every school’s leadership structure, with a designated music lead or head of department at school and/or academy trust level”.

The DfE would “like” every school to have a “music development plan” by September 2023 at the latest, capturing their curricular and co-curricular offer and setting out its staffing and funding.

Schools should offer lessons across a range of instruments and voice, a choir or ensemble, rehearsal space, termly performances and “opportunity to enjoy live performance at least once a year”.

The DfE said schools would also be “asked to offer at least one hour of music curriculum a week”, though last year’s non-statutory model music curriculum had already requested this at key stages one to three.

While guidance is not statutory, government will be “monitoring progress against it to understand if there is more we need to do to”.

A pilot music progression fund will support “disadvantaged pupils with significant musical potential” via schools and music hubs from 2023, with four years of government match-funding.

New music ‘centres of excellence’ and inclusion focus

New “national music hub centres of excellence” will be created by 2024 for inclusion, CPD, music technology and pathways to industry, based in four music hubs and supporting all the rest.

The DfE will “open up the music hub programme to competition” again in the autumn by inviting applications to lead and receive their funding. It expects this to mean fewer hubs covering larger areas.

Every music hub will need an “inclusion strategy”, and lead organisations will need an “inclusion lead” by 2024. They will also have to partner with a small number of lead schools to design and deliver professional development and peer-to-peer support for local schools by spring 2024.

Officials also announced a “further £79 million” a year until 2025 for music hubs, local partnerships offering music support to schools.

The DfE had already confirmed in March that hubs would continue to be funded in 2022-23, in another announcement criticised for coming at the “11th hour” by music leaders.

But they had not previously confirmed the same sum would be granted in subsequent years. The greater notice is likely to be welcomed by the sector, though it remains flat despite inflation nearing double digits.

Questions over spending ‘more on PE than maths’

Many primaries are likely to welcome another year’s PE and sports premium funding, with uncertainty until now over whether funding would continue into 2022-23.

Ali Oliver, CEO of the Youth Sport Trust, welcomed the £320 million as a “positive first step” towards building back play, physical activity and school sport into children’s lives.

The DfE said the funding would help ensure children had at least an hour of physical activity a day, and also promised £11 million to extend the School Games programme.

But the extension came a week later than last year – when charities condemned it as already too short notice for schools and providers to plan.

It also comes just a week after two academics claimed there had been a “clear failure” to deliver on a key aim of improving PE teaching, despite “more investment than maths”. Staff have been “sidelined in favour of an army of outsourced providers”, with many reportedly not qualified.

Dr Vicky Randall and Gerald Griggs, who have carried out research into the premium, claimed this could mean a “rapid erosion” in provision if funding eventually stops.

They also claimed there had been an “extraordinary lack of accountability” over how £2.2 billion spent on primary PE since the Olympic Games had been spent.

They said funding should be fully integrated into the curriculum with “sustainable and accountable” funding – or the country could “squander the legacy of London 2012”.

Meanwhile, Ofsted said in March that after eight years of funding, it was “still unclear” what sustained positive impact funding was having on teacher expertise and pupil outcomes – and flagged its past findings that some schools breached guidance on how to use it.

While School Games funding is also likely to be welcomed, it is far less than the £50.8 million allocated in 2011-12 and £17.9 million in 2015-16, despite rising inflation. Funding statistics stopped being published in 2016.

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