Within the UK, not less than one hour of music per week is necessary for all school-age youngsters.

On 25 June, the UK Department of Education made public the new version of its National Music Education Plan which affirms the government’s ambition to “facilitate access to music for all children, regardless of their material condition or geographical origin.”

Music education is not an optional activity or reserved for extracurricular time and weekends, we read in the press release on the website of the Secretary of Education. “Music is at the heart of the school and its community. It is part of the national curriculum for ages 5 to 14, and must be taught methodically and followed, like math, English or science..”

in the subtitled document “The Power of Music to Change Lives”it is thus stipulated that schools will have the obligation to offer “at least one hour of mandatory music instruction” per week. A budget of £25 million (approximately €29 million) will go towards purchasing instruments and equipment for schools, including instruments adapted for pupils with special needs. £79 million (approximately €92 million) a year, until 2025, will be allocated to the Music Hubs programme, a network of private entities whose main vocation is to guarantee access, opportunities and excellence in music education to all children and youth in the territory.

This new version was developed after extensive consultation involving 5,000 people, from music education professionals to young musicians, invited to formulate their proposals.

“The new National Plan represents years of work, said the executive director of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM)company representing different profiles of professional musicians in the UK. The ISM will study it closely and listen to teachers’ opinions. But at first reading many things seem very positive to us and our members will be happy to see their proposals integrated into the document.”

Compared to the version published in 2011, the new Plan places greater emphasis on access for all to quality music education, support for particularly gifted students through professionalization and the inclusion of students with special needs through adapted methods and tools.

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A musically educated society is in the national interest

The music community welcomed the news with enthusiasm: “We know that music is one of the most incredible forces that breaks down all barriers, and it’s great that the government has listened to what many professionals have been saying for a long time, commented British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on Twitter. If we could all come together to bring music back to our schools, it could only enrich our nation.”

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The chief executive of the leading British music industry organization UK Music, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, commented : “Continued investment in music education is vital if we are to unlock the immense creative potential of young people and straighten out opportunities across the country. Music is a national asset that brings billions to our economy, improves our health and well-being, and strengthens our reputation around the world, all of which are underpinned by a strong network of talent. A complete music education does great good for children, whatever they choose to do in life, and it is in our national interest to have a musically educated society.”

On the side of the unions, caution is needed. Chris Walters of Musicians Union alert : “The Plan is in its infancy and we will closely monitor the development and implementation of its main initiatives. Ultimately, the proof of its worth will be in the results for children and youth, and it will be vital to effectively evaluate them.”

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