National plan and music service announced for Wales
E Students at St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea performing
The Welsh government has announced the publication of the country’s first National Plan for Music Education and the creation of a National Music Service, backed by £13.5m.
Covering children and young people aged three to 16, the Plan will be implemented across schools and settings in Wales from September 2022, with a ‘particular focus’ on learners from low-income households and those with additional needs.
Having invested £1.5m per year as a baseline funding for music services and ensembles support since 2018/19, the Welsh government has committed to an additional £3m per year. The overall funding for music education each year will be £4.5m for the next three years.
The funding, NPME and National Music Service were announced by Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford and minister for education and Welsh language Jeremy Miles at St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary school on 16 May, where they joined a group of primary school children taking part in a ‘Play Along’ session led by Swansea Music Service.
Four key strands On announcing the Plan, the government highlighted four key strands of work, including a review of music tutors’ terms and conditions to ensure ‘proper’ recognition and a ‘First Experiences’ programme to offer primary school children a minimum of a half a term of instrumental taster sessions.
The Plan also includes a ‘Making Music with Others’ initiative for secondary school students to gain industry experience through working with musicians, and a new national instrument and equipment library.
The new National Music Service, which seeks to coordinate the currently sporadic offering across Wales, will operate as a ‘hub’ operated by the Welsh Local Government Association.
Launching in tandem with the new Curriculum for Wales, which includes music as one of the five disciplines within the Expressive Arts Area of Learning and Experience, the Plan will help schools deliver the new curriculum and provide ‘more diverse opportunities’ for young people outside of school.
Suffering music services In an article published on 13 May, Senedd Research outlined the context of the latest developments in Wales, including a brief summary of the research, polls, committees and studies that have informed the creation of a Plan and a Music Service.
Over the last 10 years, non-statutory music services have suffered as a result of reductions in public spending and constraints on local authority budgets. In broad terms, the new National Music Service and accompanying Plan are the government’s response to this.
First minister Mark Drakeford said: ‘The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.’
The education minister Jeremy Miles said: ‘Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument.’
Response Response to the Plan have been largely positive (see p.30). The Musicians’ Union said in their official response: ‘While the MU sees the plan as a significant step forward, we will be watching closely to see that it delivers all that is promised with sufficient evaluation and accountability. Time will tell if the allocated budget is sufficient to include all schools and children, and this will need to be kept under review.’
This is great news overall and a real victory in terms of some important ideas making their way into Welsh government policy. There’s a long way to go, however, and the MU will continue to engage constructively.’
The National Plan for Music Education in Wales can be read in full at gov.wales/nationalplan-music-education.
6 F July 2022 F MUSIC TEACHER