Deputy Head of Music Service at Services For Education, Adam Hickman, provides a summary of the refreshed National Plan for Music Education in 2022 and what it means for music educators across England.
The 85-page document contains three main chapters, each focusing on one of the three central aims of the plan.
The refreshed National Plan for Music Education does not have a set of Core and Extension Roles for Music Hubs to deliver (as featured in the 2011 original plan) but focuses on the importance of providing access to broader music education.
The plan quite rightly highlights the connections between curriculum music, extra-curricular/co-curricular opportunities (including instrumental, vocal lessons and ensemble opportunities), as well as musical events and opportunities such as singing in assemblies, concerts and other professional performances.
As music educators, we know that the interrelated links between all the above help to support the delivery of high-quality music education. Therefore, it is important to understand the DfE’s latest set of guidelines in more detail.
What is Included in the National Plan for Music Education 2022?
The plan is divided into chapters, which look at the three main aims of the National Plan for Music Education in more detail:
- Support schools and other education settings to deliver high-quality music education.
- Support all children and young people to engage with a range of musical opportunities both in and out of school.
- Support young people to develop their musical interests and talent further, including in employment.
The Power of Music to Change Lives – Chapter 1
Chapter 1 is most relevant to schools, and the plan identifies the features of high-quality music education as follows:
- Timetabled curriculum music of at least one hour each week of the school year for key stages 1-3.
- Access to lessons across a range of instruments and voices.
- A school choir and/or vocal ensemble.
- A school ensemble/band/group.
- Space for rehearsals and individual practice.
- A termly school performance.
- An opportunity to enjoy a live performance at least once a year.
This links to the first aim identified, which is all children and young people receive high-quality music education in the early years and in schools. It also discusses the need for each school to have a designated music lead along with a School Music Development Plan by September 2023.
The Power of Music to Change Lives – Chapter 2
Chapter 2 focuses on partnership work. In particular, the role of music education hubs and the idea of Local Lead Schools for Music. The second aim is for all music educators to work in partnership, with children and young people’s needs and interests at their heart.
The Power of Music to Change Lives – Chapter 3
Chapter 3 is all about supporting progression and furthering musical development. It refers to talent pathways and building links with the professional industry with examples of current good practices nationally in this area. This links to the final aim for all children and young people with musical interests and talents to have the opportunity to progress their interests and potential, including professionally.
What Can We Learn from the National Plan for Music Education 2022?
In summary, the National Plan for Music Education highlights the importance of developing partnerships, pathways and progression routes for all learners.
Schools must focus on enhancing and augmenting the music education they offer through performance opportunities, singing, learning to play musical instruments, and ensuring there are clear progression routes available for learners.
Music is a unique subject that has the power to inspire and change lives. It embeds the behaviours needed for young people to take their place in an ever-changing world.
Partnership work with music education hubs, schools, arts organisations and community organisations will be the only way for the revised plan to reach the aims and ambitions identified.
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Adam Hickman - Deputy Head of Music Service, Services For Education
Adam graduated from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (formerly Birmingham Conservatoire) in 2008 with a BMus (Hons) degree, where he studied classical guitar with Mark Ashford and Mark Eden. Upon graduation, Adam completed a PGCE in Primary Education at Birmingham City University and has since worked as a peripatetic music teacher. He is currently Deputy Head of Music Service at Services For Education.
In the past, Adam has worked as an External Examiner at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and coordinated and lectured on music education modules at both Birmingham City University and The University of Birmingham.
In June 2019, Adam was awarded Honorary Membership of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in recognition for his work in music education. Adam is also active as a conductor and ensemble director through his work with the Birmingham Schools’ Training Guitar Ensemble and the National Youth Guitar Ensemble.