We are pleased to see that the government has pledged £300m to continue to invest in music and the arts through Music Education Hubs in the UK, particularly at a time when music education is under threat through the introduction of the new Ebacc qualification.
Carien Meijer, Chief Exec of Drake Music commented:
“Music is a human right. A right to be creative is a right reserved for all.
If we don’t come together as a sector to increase the opportunities for disabled children and young people to take part in music making, we run the risk of unintentionally withholding that right.
Inclusion is not a choice and we hope that this funding announcement will enable Music Education Hubs to strengthen inclusion across their four core roles, to achieve the aim of the National Plan for Music Education for all children to have access to quality music education and opportunities for progression.”
Focus on areas of need
We are reassured that the newly announced funding will be focusing on areas of high social deprivation, as our consultation with 11 Music Education Hubs in the East of England showed that targeted action for geographically isolated Hubs is needed to support teaching and learning in SEN/D settings.
However, alongside this focus on areas of high social deprivation we would also like to see more robust criteria for inclusion, and a clear focus on improving access for disabled children and young people, with funding dedicated towards a sustainable strategic focus on SEN/D work.
Currently there are examples of good practice in inclusive music-making across the sector, but there is a need for strategic development in order to improve access accross the board. We believe we are on the cusp of a golden age of accessible music-making, but that investment and strategic vision are needed to drive it forward.
The music education sector needs to provide clear pathways for disabled people; from progression & qualification opportunities for young musicians through to professional opportunities for music leaders.
ACE Figures on Music Ed in SEN/D Settings
Figures from Arts Council England for 2014/15 show that show that the universal offer isn’t currently producing enough change. Pupils with SEN are considerably under-represented among those participating in ensembles and choirs, as well as amongst those having individual or group lessons.
The figures are also lacking in detail when it comes to SEN/D music provision, for example, there is no data provided for the number of inclusive ensembles, despite the report showing that the percentage of ensemble participants with SEN is considerably lower at 4.3% than the 15.4% of pupils with SEN in the national population.
Drake Music look forward to seeing the data for 2015-16 when figures for inclusive ensembles will be published for the first time by ACE.
If Arts Council England can identify the ways in which inclusion for disabled children and young people can be supported through their continued funding, then Music Education Hubs can work with schools and teachers to increase music making opportunities for disabled children and young people.
To strengthen inclusive practice we want to see a more diverse workforce with more disabled people working as music leaders, in order to:
- work collaboratively with disabled people as leaders in the music education sector
- to open up new professional opportunities for disabled musicians
- to provide strong role models for disabled children and young people
To achieve this, music-making and the voices of disabled people need to be listened to and valued; starting with musical opportunities in schools.