Across England, thousands of children are being denied a proper music education.
In one school I visited, the annual music budget was just £2.20 per pupil per year. Some teachers have nothing at all.
It’s a scandal.
Learning an instrument changed my life. It actually saved my life. And now I’m lucky enough to perform around the world as a concert pianist.
But music doesn’t just bring us joy. The UK music industry contributes £3.5billion to our economy.
Learning an instrument has also been proven to boost children’s self-confidence, discipline, teamwork, concentration and performance in other subjects.
The Government knows this. In the National Plan for Music Education published in 2011, it declared: “Children from all backgrounds and every part of England should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument”.
This isn’t happening.
And it’s not just in the National Plan where the Government recognises that something needs to be done. It’s also part of the new National Curriculum that all children in England should be taught to play musical instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression by the time they leave primary school.
Even with the additional £18 million the Government recently announced, funding for music education still falls far short.
This is a complex problem and experts agree it's about more than just money. We need action: whether it’s providing teachers with proper music training or asking Ofsted to pay specific attention to music in their inspections or even a guarantee of funding until the end of the National Plan. But the details of how to achieve it are for the policymakers. What I'm asking for is something simple.
I want the Government to deliver on its promise and give EVERY child the chance to learn an instrument.
But despite the commitment set out in the Government’s National Plan for Music Education, as well as the new national curriculum, thousands of children in England are not getting the music education they were promised.
This is a complex problem, it involves everything from the training teachers receive, whether Ofsted pay specific attention to music and even the need for guaranteed funding until the end of the National Plan. But the details of how to achieve it are for the policymakers. What I'm asking for is something simple.
As the new Secretary of State for Education I’m calling on you to urgently ensure that the Government delivers on its promise to give every child, regardless of their background or ability to pay, a good music education and the chance to learn an instrument.