A-level music education in schools could “disappear” in just over a decade

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A-level music education in schools could disappear altogether in just over a decade, new research shows.

According to researchers at Birmingham City University, the decline in access to musical qualifications has been accelerated by cuts in funding to local and central governments.

They are now warning that qualifying could be wiped out entirely by 2033, cutting off an entire pipeline of future talent from the UK.

The findings from lead researchers Dr Adam Whittaker and Professor Martin Fautley have now led music academics and music industry professionals to call for urgent intervention and a package of political and financial measures to support the UK state music education system.

Dr Whittaker said: “We know from the trends in A-level adoption over the past few years that the number of students taking A-level music has fallen to a level of great concern.

“We are now in a position where there are parts of the country with very limited access to A-level music or, in some cases, no access at all.

“Children cannot choose a diploma that is not offered to them. What should a child who wishes to take a level A music lesson do if the nearest school offering it is 50 km away? We need A-level music and other specialized subjects to be offered in a range of schools across a local authority area.

“This is important because A-level music can help young musicians pursue higher education in music and their future careers, including as the next generation of music educators. “

In their research, which is available here, Dr Whittaker and Professor Fautley state that “Those who cannot afford to fund private instrumental studies are unlikely to have sufficient income to pay for independent tuition, even if a scholarship supports them at a higher or lower level. to a lesser extent… current rates of decline in admissions in recent years show that A-level music is likely to have zero admissions by 2033 if the current rate of decline continues in a linear fashion.

In the report, it was also revealed that independent schools account for a disproportionate number of A-level music admissions compared to national entry statistics, which could lead to a talent sinkhole.

Their research also confirmed that the proportion of students taking music training in the Midlands has fallen to just 1% following a drop in the number of schools and colleges offering the optional course – in line with national adoption.

Calling on the government for change, UK Music Director-General Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “There has been a worrying decline in the number of young people studying music at A level in recent years.

“Unless action is taken to reverse this trend, there is a real risk of serious damage to the talent pool on which the music industry relies.

“Music education enriches the lives of countless children and young people, but it also brings enormous cultural, economic and social benefits to the UK.

“At UK Music we continue to discuss with government and education officials how we can ensure that children of all backgrounds have the best possible chance to study music, which is one of the our great national assets. “

Professor Martin Fautley added, “We have been concerned about the decline in the number of A-level music for some time. Music is an important part of the lives of many of our young people, but fewer and fewer of them are choosing higher education while in school.

“With the increasing fragmentation of the education system that this government has overseen, there is a very real possibility that many of our young people will simply not have the opportunity to participate in this study, even if they want to. “

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