Press release

Education Secretary Michael Gove announces review of music education

Gove: 'All children should have the chance to learn an instrument.'

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

All young people should have the chance to learn an instrument, read music and receive top quality music education, Education Secretary Michael Gove said today.

Launching an independent review of music education, which will be led by Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM, Mr Gove said broadening the access and opportunities young people have to experience and understand music is central to raising standards.

Research shows that quality music education improves behaviour, attention and concentration, and has a hugely positive effect on numeracy and language skills. Giving all young people the best possible music education will help the Government achieve its twin aims of driving up standards and reducing the attainment gap.

The review will look at

  • how to make sure music funding benefits more young people
  • improving the music opportunities young people receive both in and out of school
  • improving the teacher training and professional development offered to music teachers
  • how to attract more music professionals into schools
  • how best to offer quality live music experiences to all young people.

Michael Gove said:

It’s a sad fact that too many children in state schools are denied the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. Evidence suggests that learning an instrument can improve numeracy, literacy and behaviour. But more than that, it is simply unfair that the joy of musical discovery should be the preserve of those whose parents can afford it.

Mr Henley issued a public call for evidence today, seeking the views of parents, schools and music specialists. He said:

Having worked closely with leading music educators and thinkers over the past few years, I know how much of a positive difference high quality music education makes to children’s lives. I am looking forward to delivering to ministers a report which outlines how we can ensure that every child in England benefits from a world-beating music education system.

Minister for the Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, said:

Young people are the lifeblood of creativity in the UK. We produce some of the greatest musical talent in the world but there is so much more that can be done to harness the passion and enthusiasm that children have for music.

Young people need to be given greater and more equal opportunities to benefit from formal music education. We need to encourage them to see the link between learning an instrument, and the artists they hear on the radio and the songs they download.

As well as it being important to learn skills in music for its own sake, the benefits don’t stop there. Immersion in music can lead to improved social skills and educational success, with behaviour, wellbeing, confidence, team-working and concentration skills all proven to improve with good music provision. I look forward to supporting the review and seeing its results.

The review is expected to make its recommendations before the end of the year.

Notes to editors

  1. Download the full remit of the review from this page.
  2. You can also download the letter from the Secretary of State to Darren Henley inviting him to lead the review.
  3. Contact the Department for Education to receive more information about participating in the music review and obtain a consultation pack.
  4. Darren Henley is the Managing Director of Classic FM. He joined the radio station in 1992, first as a journalist and then as a programme producer. In 2000 he was appointed Managing Editor, with responsibility for all of the station’s on-air programming. Two years later, he was named Station Manager with a brief that was widened to include all aspects of Classic FM’s business. He was promoted to Managing Director in 2006. Since the beginning of 2007, he has worked closely with music educators, ministers and civil servants as Chairman of the Music Manifesto Partnership and Advocacy Group, and as Chairman of the Tune In Legacy Group. He has served on the DCSF/DCMS Music Programme Board and the In Harmony Steering Group. He also sat on the Conservative Party’s Independent Review of Creative Industries. He is the author of 19 books about classical music and musicians, including an award-winning series of audiobooks for children. Darren studied politics at the University of Hull. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Companion of the Chartered Institute of Management.

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Published 24 September 2010