The Mayor of London's Fund for Young Musicians

GLA Response to the Henley Review

GLA submission to the Henley Review of Music Education

November 2010

The role of the GLA in music education

GLA Objectives:


  • Leadership and coordination through the Steering Group, partner organisations, events and publications for the music education sector.
  • Intelligence gathering, primarily via an audit of music education provision in London which commences in November 2010.
  • A Music Education Fund of £100,000 which is seed-funding six new partnerships between LA music services and arts organisations.
  • Rhythm of London – public performance opportunities for young people which raise the profile of music education across the capital.


The strategy is overseen by a steering group of senior arts managers and educationalists at the forefront of music education:


Karen Brock (Chair)                                Music Education Council / Tower Hamlets Music Service

Richard Morris (Deputy Chair)                Music Education Consultant / ABRSM

Lincoln Abbots                                      Music for Youth

Paul Broadhurst                                                Greater London Authority

Stephen Dagg                                       Centre for Young Musicians

Marcus Davey                                       Roundhouse

Philip Flood                                          Sound Connections

Sean Gregory                                        Barbican Centre and Guildhall School

Fiona Harvey                                         Association of British Orchestras

Nigel Hiscock                                        Federation of Music Services (London)

Nick Howdle                                          Youth Music

Barry Ife                                                Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Nicholas Kenyon                                   Barbican Centre

Shan MacLennan                                   Southbank Centre

Kathryn McDowell                                 London Symphony Orchestra

John McMahon                                     Museums Libraries and Archives Service

Munira Mirza                                          Greater London Authority

Gillian Moore                                         Southbank Centre

Victoria Sharp                                       London Music Masters

Helen Sprott                                          Arts Council London

John Stephens                                      Music Education Consultant

Veronica Wadley                                   Arts Council London

Claire Whitaker                                      Serious



The comments and recommendations set out in this response are those of the GLA and the GLA Music Education Steering Group. Whilst this response is broadly representative of the Group’s views, there is a diversity of opinion and we do not claim to represent all views of all members.

Summary of response


There are many excellent organisations, structures and programmes delivering music education today, making the UK one of the world’s leading countries in this area. We have one of the most vibrant, diverse and economically significant music industries in the world, which is dependent on our education system. However, we cannot be complacent, and it is clear that the weaknesses in the system between the late 1980s and 1990s are beginning to show. It is therefore vital that central Government recognises this and commits to continued support and funding.


In light of the inevitable pressures on funding at many different levels, the priority today must be to sustain the structure for high quality and universal music education system over the long-term. In a time of cuts, a coherent structure, strong direction and quality assurance are more important than ever. The key issues to address are: better national, regional and local coordination, improving the quality of teaching, addressing the ‘patchy’ nature of provision in certain geographical areas, and ensuring progression and excellence for children with aptitude, regardless of their background.


In the last fifteen years there has been a proliferation of diverse and exciting music education providers but at the heart of the music system must be schools and local music services. These provide the core foundations for a structured music education and are the ‘nodal points’ that can help coordinate the many initiatives and practitioners that exist today. On top of this, we advocate the creation of a national music strategy and performance unit which can ensure everyone is working to the same goals, monitor standards, support the improvement of music services and help reduce duplication and bureaucracy. Whilst the current system is not perfect, it would be much better and easier to drive through improvements, rather than go through the turmoil of replacing with an entirely new structure.


The end goal should be to ensure that all children have a strong music education in school, complemented by extra-curricular activities provided by the local music education service and other organisations. For those with particular aptitude, progression paths must be offered and properly funded, so that they can develop their music skills to the highest level.



What is it that works best about the way music education is currently delivered?

  • There are many excellent people, structures and practices in music education which are significantly benefiting young people and their communities. These must be safeguarded, and used to inform policy and funding. They include:
  • Ring-fenced music education funding, provided by the Department for Education, directed via Local Authority music services.
  • The principle of access for all to a high quality music curriculum, from ages 5-15.
  • The thinking behind the music curriculum in this country, which is strong and world leading.
  • The school and music service infrastructure, which is unique and effective in providing a holistic music education for children and young people.
  • The pride that many Local Authorities take in the work of their music services. Music Services are uniquely placed to bring together large numbers of young people from across a borough or region, in joint celebration.
  • The confidence and reach of music services in both inner and outer London, which has developed over the past decade, partly thanks to the growth in central Government support and national programmes.
  • The music curriculum, delivered in the classroom to the highest quality, which actively engages all young people in musical learning through composing, performing and listening.
  • Schools that understand the value of sustained, progressive musical learning in developing students’ confidence, social bonds, community pride and improving attainment across the curriculum.
  • Structured singing, instrumental and ensemble provision that enriches the curriculum and enables students to progress as musicians.
  • Opportunities for young people to experience high quality live performance.
  • Older, advanced students, including those in further and higher education, working alongside younger musicians to provide inspiration, mentoring and clear next-steps.
  • Young people working alongside professional musicians on projects that are jointly planned, delivered and evaluated by the specialist provider, school and/or music service.
  • Partnerships that have grown from a mutual desire to improve the range and quality of music opportunities for young people, share good work and use resources more efficiently. The LSO On Track scheme in 10 East London Boroughs has been exemplary in this respect. A number of music services in London are also sharing their training and support for teachers and professionals and more could be done to encourage this.
  • Specialist provision for students with exceptional ability through the Music and Dance Scheme funded institutions (CYM, Junior Conservatoires and the four Music Schools)
  • Leading conservatoires and other specialist music HE institutions that provide world-class teaching and produce a highly skilled music workforce.
  • The expert fundraising teams within arts organisations and specialist providers. London orchestras for example have considerable expertise that could benefit local music education services if the structure allowed them to. One of the aims of the GLA Music Education Fund is to develop this.
  • The best about the delivery of music education is the combination of the above elements



What is it that could / should be working better in the way that music education is currently delivered?



  • As the number of people and range of organisations delivering music education has increased, so greater coordination is required to avoid waste, drive efficiency, improve progression and guarantee excellence.


  • There are several ‘nodal points’ at which this coordination should happen. This is discussed in Section 4.


  • In London there are thousands of music education providers but very little knowledge of what exists. We have commissioned a city-wide audit for the first time this year.


The school curriculum & instrumental learning and progression


  • There is a widespread misunderstanding in the media and the profession that music education is instrumental learning. This undermines the value of the school music curriculum and structured, progressive classroom music making.
  • Differentiation should be made between a structured, developmental music curriculum and extra-curricular instrumental learning or musical experiences, The former must be enriched by the latter.
  • The curriculum has been weakened in places where Wider Opportunities instrumental learning has become the sole source of music education, or where the school views music as an outsourced activity.


  • There should be a renewed emphasis on the music curriculum in schools. This is the foundation for all development in music education. Where teachers are skilled and well trained, this delivery is effective: where schools recognise the significance of music education, this core is integrated into the delivery of all other aspects of learning.


  • Wide access to instrumental learning is widely regarded as positive. However, the heavy investment in this area means little funding is left for small group or one-to-one tuition. This prevents those with aptitude from progressing. It is important to recognise that there is not enough funding available for both Wider Opportunities and effective progression.


  • Learning an instrument for a limited time, in a large group, can lead to children having an off-putting experience of music, or feeling disappointed if they are unable to continue after the initial period.


  • Limited resources should be deployed to ensure that all young people are engaged in structured music learning, and those with aptitude can make progress in instrumental leaning without the barriers that currently exist. These issues are addressed in Section 3.




  • Whilst there is excellent, strategic involvement of professional musicians in some areas, this should be developed further.


  • There is an unrivalled roster of professional musicians living and working in London. Arts organisations, venues, promoters, music educators, funding agencies and policy makers must increase their awareness of each other and find ways of linking professional musicians into the music education process. A coordinated regional structure and good use of digital technology would help improve awareness.


The workforce

  • The success of the school music curriculum relies on the quality and effectiveness of teaching at primary and secondary level.


  • Initial training for primary teachers is not currently fit for purpose in music. Delivering high quality classroom music activities, and being able to identify musical aptitude (which can manifest itself in many ways, including disruptive behaviour or isolation), requires teachers who are trained in music and regularly undertake CPD.


  • More specialist music teachers are required at primary level. A proper review needs to be conducted to assess needs in this area.
  • There is a shortage of sufficiently trained instrumental teachers. To increase the status and quality of teaching Qualified Teacher Status should be available to instrumental teachers and workshop leaders.


  • There are now many more people delivering music education than 10 years ago. Qualified music educators are often excellent musicians; professional musicians are often excellent music educators, however this correlation should not be assumed.


  • Practitioners such as instrumental teachers and workshop leaders should have sufficient understanding of pedagogy, and regularly undertake CPD and reflective practice.


  • Professional musicians working in educational settings should be appropriately supported by a skilled music educator.


  • A major initiative should be considered to recruit more high quality teachers. This may include incentivising music graduates to teach. Links with Teach First should be explored.


  • Conservatoires should build regular teaching into courses. Every young musician should have a portfolio of experiences and leave HE prepared to include teaching in their career.


  • Teacher training centres, conservatoires and music services should come together to:


    • Improve  initial teacher training courses and follow-on CPD so that teachers are equipped with the skills, pedagogy and confidence to teach music effectively
    • create new routes into primary classroom teaching and instrumental teaching for music graduates


  • Improving initial teacher training will take time. Improved CPD can be effected quickly. For example the Certificate of Teaching offered by ABRSM. CPD must be ‘in the bloodstream’ of all music educators.


  • The status of Head of Music Service should be raised. If music services are to take on an enhanced role – supporting the curriculum, overseeing quality, delivering instrumental and ensemble programmes, managing partnerships and taking a strategic lead – the leaders of music services need to possess high level musical, educational, business and strategic skills. Head of Music Service interview panels should include a senior music educationalist.



What would be the ideal way to ensure that every child learns a musical instrument and learns to sing?

  • The term ‘learning’ should be clarified. Musical experiences, or introductions to playing a musical instrument, which can be valid in their own right, are often mistaken for instrumental learning.


  • It is doubtful that every child would want to engage in sustained instrumental learning, nor could this be financed.


  • The focus should instead be: how do we ensure that every child receives a structured music education and is regularly engaged in music making which involves creating, performing and listening.


  • For those with aptitude, how can we ensure they have access to further instrumental training?


  • A clear ladder of progression, with excellent provision at every level, should be established in all regions which allows young people to make progress after the initial stages. This would be an egalitarian, realistic and understandable approach.

A school music curriculum for all

  • Every young person should receive a structured music education.


  • Schools are best placed to decide how the needs of children are best met. Therefore music in the school curriculum should be the first priority for public funding.


  • Singing, instrumental learning and work with professional musicians all enrich the curriculum.

  • The cost of providing instrumental learning for all children at KS2 does not leave enough funding to ensure that those with aptitude can progress.


  • Tough decisions therefore have to be made on how to deploy resources. The second priority for public funding should be progression. Children from all backgrounds, regardless of their parent’s ability to pay, should be able to progress through a clear system of tuition, ensemble provision and special projects.



  • All children should have the opportunity to sing on a regular basis as part of the music curriculum.


  • Children’s first musical experiences should be through singing. This will underpin all future musical learning.


  • Singing should continue through primary, secondary and extra-curricular music education.


  • Singing should of course be for pleasure, but should also be progressive, underpinned with secure pedagogy, developing children’s musical understanding and introducing concepts such as notation.


  • Sing Up has been a wonderful campaign to encourage singing in schools. There is now an opportunity to ensure that singing is fully integrated into the curriculum, built on a strong pedagogical base, and supported as part of local music service provision.


Instrumental learning

  • When a child starts learning an instrument it must be clear to the child, parent and teacher:


    • if they want to continue, what are the next steps?
    • how will it be paid for?
    • can they keep the instrument?
    • will they receive the necessary small group or one-to-one tuition?
    • will they have access to ensembles?
    • will they receive tuition at secondary school?


  • By presenting parents with clear progression routes, they can plan accordingly. Children with interest and aptitude who can’t afford to pay must be supported with public funding.


  • An affordable and effective means of introducing all children to instrumental learning in primary school could be through classroom instruments such as Orff percussion and recorder. This will progress them through the music curriculum and enable those with aptitude and interest to be recognised and moved onto other instruments.

  • Most schools are unlikely to have the resources to meet the needs of all children wanting to learn an instrument. There is a wide range of instruments, all of which require specialist skills to teach.


  • High quality, trained instrumental teachers should work with the school to provide extra-curricular instrumental tuition, initial ensemble opportunities, and signpost children onto more advanced ensembles and tuition and projects beyond the school.


  • Music Services are expert in delivering this complex and specialist provision in schools. Our experience in London suggests that school teachers welcome this support.


  • Transition from primary to secondary school needs to be tackled. Information must be routinely passed on regarding individuals’ attainment and experiences in music, perhaps through an individual child’s ‘music passport’. There are several threads that must remain un-broken when a child moves up to secondary school:


    • Instruments to be kept by the child or new ones made available
    • larger instruments made available as children grow
    • tuition should be available
    • the music curriculum must challenge all children and build on what they have learnt at primary school, including singing and instrumental skills
    • ensembles and other extra-curricular opportunities should be provided which support the curriculum


Ensembles and special projects


  • Learning a musical instrument should not happen in isolation. In order to continue learning, children need the motivation of regularly playing in a group, performing, and taking part in projects which stretch their skills and creativity.


  • There must be a commitment from local and national government to out-of-school provision which is progressive, takes place in a variety of settings and in a range of genres.


  • Youth ensembles and specialist  projects are an important springboard to FE, HE and the industry. They equip young people with skills for their personal life and future employment. They are also the bedrock of the amateur music scene. In London amateur music making is particularly strong and increasingly feeding back into music education.


  • There are some excellent examples of professional musicians playing an integral part in music education provision. Where they are working alongside expert music educators, they make a unique contribution and directly affect standards and quality. However more can be done to make strategic use of professional musicians of all musical genres in the delivery of music education.

Pyramid of progression

  • Compared with other subject areas, progression in music takes many years and only a small number will make it to the highest level. For children, parents and teacher to aspire to this challenge, they must be able to see where their hard work can lead. If we believe that involvement in music will make people’s lives better, as well as making our society better, there needs to be a clear structure that everyone can understand and is accessible for all.


  • At the base of the pyramid is access for all to a music curriculum, including regular opportunities for singing and basic instrumental learning. This is based in school.
  • The next level is group instrumental tuition by a specialist teacher, plus access to beginner ensembles, in school or within schools clusters.
  • Progressing up the pyramid, students will receive small group and individual tuition and regular ensemble playing, plus broader aspects of music history, theory, composition and leadership. This may happen privately, in school, or via music services. The number of providers working at each level in any given area should be based on need.
  • At the higher levels of the pyramid are Centres for Advanced Training e.g. CYM, Junior Conservatoires, the Music And Dance Scheme schools and the flagship regional and national ensembles. Again provision must be strategic and driven by need.
  • The pyramid leads ultimately to higher education and its many excellent specialist music providers across a variety of genres, including our world-class conservatoires. Once in the profession ongoing CPD will ensure practice remains fresh and informed.
  • Throughout this process motivation is required for progression to take place. Role models, opportunities to experience live music, and the chance to meet and perform alongside other musicians of all levels, are essential. Graded exams and initiatives such as music medals also play a vital role in motivating young learners, whether they taught in small groups or receive one-to-one tuition.


  • This model of music education ensures that every child receives an engaging music curriculum, singing and basic instrumental learning. Those with interest and aptitude, regardless of background or ability to pay, can develop their instrumental learning further, some to the very highest level.


  • Schools can adapt this basic model based on student need. In collaboration with other providers they can supplement this offer. There is significant scope for local government or private funders to develop specific initiatives and centres of excellence. With a national strategy and regional coordinator in place, additional activity would be developed to meet identified needs.


We should examine where subsidy is going and how our institutions are feeding in to this pyramid. It is sadly the case that very few children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds currently make it through to our specialist regional and national institutions and flagship ensembles.

If we had a blank sheet of paper, what would be your view of the ideal funding and delivery structure for music education?

Structures – national body, ‘nodal points’, partnerships


  • A strategic view, coupled to a coherent national, regional and local structure, is vital. All policy makers, funders, providers and evaluators should link in at specific ‘nodal points’
  • A small, carefully selected national body, is required to provide coherence to the plethora of policy makers, funders, deliverers and initiatives.


  • This newly constituted body should encompass all music education stakeholders; hold an executive role; have clear functions and responsibilities, for example producing a National Music Education Strategy; oversee standards in music education – probably requiring links with Ofsted; be represented on the selection panel for appointments of all music service heads.


  • The national body should be represented across the country by a series of regional ‘nodes’.


  • London’s 33 boroughs cover a huge geographical area. Over 1.2 million children attend London’s 2,889 schools, and are taught by a workforce of over 53,000 teachers.


  • London also has a complex mix of music education providers. This is its greatest strength and what makes it unique. There is agreement that coordination and a strategic overview is required.


  • In London the GLA and its partners are working towards a coordinated, strategic approach. The GLA acts as a hub for communications and intelligence. Through a comprehensive audit of provision, a dynamic steering group and a series of events and publications, we are starting to tackle duplication, waste, gaps in provision, conflicting agendas and the confusing array of activities.


  • Local ‘nodes’ would provide music services and feed into the regional and national framework.


  • It is vital to retain local knowledge and ensure decisions are made as close to the point of need as possible.


  • The existing infrastructure, whilst not perfect, does work and requires continuity and improvement.


  • Music is a uniquely complex subject, requiring a large number of specialists to come together to deliver an effective music education package. These include classroom teachers, instrumental teachers (graded exams are offered by the ABRSM on 34 instruments), ensemble leaders and professional musicians.


  • Music Services should be linked directly into Local Authorities. Music education plays a key role in school improvement and driving up attainment. Without this direct link into Local Authority Children’s Service directorates the music curriculum would be unsupported, provision would never be more than ‘patchy’, and progression would be limited.


  • The role of music advisor, with responsibility for curriculum support, school improvement and quality assurance should be re-instated in all boroughs / regions, with this function being carried out by the head of the music service.


  • Music services should be required to engage with the full range of music education providers including schools, HE, FE, venues, ensembles, studios, community projects and individual music leaders. They would guide the strategic deployment of resources in response to identified need and priorities.


  • This should be coupled with an expectation that the work of all music education providers is guided and informed by the local music service. The Department for Education, the Arts Council and other funding bodies play an important role in reinforcing this message.


  • Links with private schools should also be explored further. In London 17% of schools are independent. This should be articulated through a national strategy and encouraged through funding agreements.




  • Music Education has always relied on a mix of public and private funding. This situation remains.


  • A long-term ring-fenced commitment to music education is essential. Funding from the DfE will ensure that music is part of every child’s education regardless of postcode.


  • Few if any schools, or school clusters, have the specialist knowledge or buying power to secure a satisfactory level of provision. Schools are already at breaking point, having to buy in over 60 different services.


  • Devolution of music education funding to schools would result in massive fragmentation of provision; inefficient purchase of teachers and resources; patchy curriculum provision; a huge decrease in the range of instruments available for young people to learn; children’s ability to progress being reliant on parent’s ability to find and pay for private tuition and ensemble opportunities.


  • The possibility that central government funding could require Local Authorities to provide a music service, and support it with a minimum level of actual or in-kind funding, should be explored.


  • In return, music services should provide a core service of:


    • school curriculum support and advice
    • singing and instrumental teaching
    • special projects and partnerships with professional artists


  • There is scope for government to simplify the funding of music education.


  • Funding should be re-directed from ‘top-down’ initiatives, into improving the existing school and music service infrastructure. This would enable local need to drive provision of singing, instrumental learning, ensembles and partnerships.


  • There are potential savings to be made. These could improve coordination and offset the cost of improved progression routes and teacher training:


    • At a regional level there is a case for de-duplication of provision and sharing of functions (e.g. some back-office functions, financial systems, training, health and safety, safeguarding, data collection)
    • Further savings are possible by reviewing the way in which instrumental tutors are engaged


  • Funding, such as the Pupil Premium, should enable children from poor families to access ongoing instruments, tuition, ensembles and special projects, to the highest level.


  • Funding through the DfE should pay for sustained, progressive music education. Music does however benefit wider aspects of life. There is a case for public and private funding streams across the cultural, commercial and social sectors contributing further to music education. Other government departments such as DCMS and DCLG have a part to play.


  • Arts Council should have a stronger requirement on funded organisations to undertake education activity which is strategic, guided by local intelligence and a national strategy.


  • Funders should better coordinate their activities and ensure that monitoring and reporting requirements are aligned. Funders should link into a national music education strategy so that those delivering music education aren’t faced with conflicting requirements.


  • Work should be undertaken to increase the role of philanthropy in music education. In London the GLA is looking at the feasibility of a music education appeal which will raise the profile of music education within the philanthropic community.