Press release

Government pledges to tackle ‘musical divide’

Michael Gove welcomes Darren Henley’s report on music education, which shows how top musicians can help disadvantaged schools.

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

The Secretary of State has responded to Darren Henley’s review into music in schools with a pledge to end the ‘musical divide’ between those wealthier children with access to great musical education and children in disadvantaged areas. To ensure that young people from every background have access to quality music education, Michael Gove announced that £82.5 million would be given to music services across England next year.

The money will be used to make opportunity more equal in music education and to enhance the prestige and esteem of music teaching as a career route for professional musicians.

The Secretary of State will implement Darren Henley’s ideas on increasing access to music education, including:

  • getting more top music graduates and performers into teaching through Teach First
  • producing a comprehensive national plan for music education setting out how children of all ages and ability can receive the best possible music education
  • moving to a national funding formula for allocating funding for music

The government will publish a national plan for music education later this year, taking forward Darren’s work. This will set out the government’s commitment to give all young people the best possible music education.

It will take forward the recommendations for schools to create more opportunities for live music and for pupils to be able to join in vocal and musical ensembles outside the classroom.

Michael Gove said:

Music has the power to touch the soul. It is a universal language understood by people of every culture. And it gives us all the chance to be transported by beauty.

But access to the best musical education is not universal and the opportunity to benefit from great instrumental tuition is not shared equally. Many disadvantaged children are denied the music education they deserve. And that’s why we need to bridge this musical divide.

All young people should have the chance to benefit from the opportunities that music can bring - not simply those pupils from wealthy backgrounds whose parents can afford to pay for lessons. So I am delighted to announce £82.5 million funding for music education for next year - protected to ensure it goes to the front line.

We know that currently in some areas of the country music education is simply not up to scratch. That is why we asked Darren Henley to review the state of music provision. And he’s done a superb job. Not least in showing how great musicians can help us tackle the musical divide.

Teach First already does fantastic work attracting some of this country’s most impressive graduates into teaching. So I am pleased that, in line with Darren’s recommendation, they have agreed to work with us to bring many of the exceptional musicians in our universities and conservatoires into our schools.

Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM, welcomed the government’s commitment to music education. He said:

This is a real opportunity for everyone involved in working in music to help to ensure that we have a generation of children who are both musically literate and music lovers. We want to ensure that the music education that every child receives is excellent in every way. And we want to make it possible for every child to be able to progress through a music education system that enables them to achieve their full musical potential.

I hope that my review will provide a basis for the thousands of passionate and dedicated professionals who work in music education every day to work together in partnership to develop a vibrant future for music education in this country. I would like to thank the hundreds of individuals and organisations who have helped me to shape the 36 recommendations contained in my review. I’m also very grateful to Michael Gove and to Ed Vaizey for the strong commitment to music which they have both personally shown in today’s announcement.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Darren Henley has done a fantastic job helping us realise our goal of making sure that every child can experience the joy of music. We want all children to have the opportunity to learn an instrument and to sing, not just those whose family can afford private tuition. There’s no question that learning about music offers huge rewards, unlocking a lifetime of cultural pleasure and teaching vital life skills too.

I’m delighted but not surprised that the contribution that our world-leading orchestras, musicians and cultural institutions make to children’s musical development has been brought centre stage. I look forward to working closely with Michael Gove in the coming months to realise our ambitions, not just on music but cultural education more broadly.

The Federation of Music Services (FMS) also welcomed the announcement today.

Virginia Haworth-Galt, Chief Executive of FMS, said:

The Federation of Music Services believes this is a landmark report. As music teachers, we see every day the outstanding contribution music makes to a child’s development. Darren Henley has argued passionately for the value of music education and has provided clear recommendations to ensure that children, wherever they live in England, can benefit from it.

We congratulate the government, led by Michael Gove and Ed Vaizey, for responding so positively to the report and listening to us and others across the sector. We welcome the news that music services will receive the same level of funding from the government and urge all local authorities to continue their financial support too.

By backing the report’s recommendation for a national plan for music education, the government has also shown its commitment to work with us, schools and all music educators to make Darren Henley’s vision a reality - to provide all children with the music education they deserve.

Brett Wigdortz, Teach First Founder and CEO, said:

Teach First recognises the value of music education to children from low income communities. Teach First already provides a small number of its participants as music teachers who work with pupils in schools in challenging circumstances. We would be very happy to work with schools and music institutions to establish the level of need in our eligible schools and how we can best recruit and train more inspirational and effective music teachers.

The Secretary of State asked Darren Henley to review music education last September. His remit was to 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

Darren Henley has made 36 recommendations for central and local government, and for the music sector itself.

To provide certainty to music services, and to demonstrate the government’s ongoing commitment to music education, the Secretary of State has confirmed that funding for music education for 2011 to 2012 will be £82.5 million - the same amount as went to local authorities in 2010 to 2011. The Department will then work with music services over the next year to manage future budget pressures.

In line with Darren Henley’s recommendations, the government will also start the move towards a national formula for music education funding this year but we will ensure that no local authority loses more than 10% of its central funding in this first year.

The government intends that the majority of funding will go to front-line delivery of music education. However, knowing that schools and teachers value the resources provided by ‘Sing Up’, the Department for Education is providing some funding for 2011 to 2012 to enable a sustainable future for ‘Sing Up’ to be developed. The government will also commit a further year’s funding of up to £500,000 in total for the current ‘In Harmony’ projects so that the lessons being learnt from this approach to community development can be better understood. The government also urges individuals and organisations to pledge financial support to ensure the future of ‘In Harmony’.

Julian Lloyd Webber said:

I applaud the Government’s commitment to bring music to every child and it is wonderful news that it will continue to support the ‘In Harmony’ project which has already had such a massive impact in its communities. The door is also now open for ‘In Harmony’ to seek funding from other sources which provides a fantastic opportunity for organisations and individuals to invest in our children’s future.

David Grant, top TV vocal coach and music producer, said:

I am both pleased and relieved that the funding for music education is being protected and I hope, as suggested in the report, that the Department for Education find the most efficient way of ensuring the impact of the money allocated is maximized.

I am delighted that the report recommends that music remains accessible to all and advances the case for its rightful place as an essential and beneficial part of a rounded education. The learning of music helps prepare young people not just for the passing of exams, but for the journey through life.

Alfie Boe, tenor, said:

I know just how important it is to make sure that young people, whatever their background, have the chance to develop their musical talent and to have people around them to nurture and support that talent. It can’t be a matter of chance. I’m pleased that the government today is making a commitment to making this happen.

Howard Goodall CBE, National Singing Ambassador said:

The Henley Review is realistic, thorough and extremely clear in its assessment and its recommendations, offering unambiguous endorsement of the fine music education already available, in patches, across the country, whilst providing signposts for further, wider improvement.

No-one in music education would claim that the current infrastructure is perfect, nor that there are not gaps and weaknesses in provision. The Review, which I welcome, can be summarised in one unequivocal truth about music education in England: namely, that much has been achieved through enlightened government investment in recent years but that moving forward with purpose is as much about accepting that there is room for a more coherent, efficient structure in the years ahead, as it is not allowing those achievements to be dismantled.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Henley Review is available to download.

  2. The Government’s response to the Henley Review is available to download.

  3. 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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Updates to this page

Published 7 February 2011