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Could Brexit benefit music education in the UK?

Laura  Barnes
Could Brexit benefit music education in the UK?

Brexit may be the ‘trigger for progress’ for music and arts education in the UK.

That’s according to members of a recent committee looking into the impact leaving the EU will have on the creative industries.

The committee spoke about what the Arts Council is currently doing to make music education more accessible via ‘hubs’ around the country and why the UK would benefit from an increase in these projects.

Committee Chair Damian Collins highlighted that the arts are not an ingrained part of early education.
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“By the time someone has finished their first year at secondary school, a determination has been made as to whether you are good or bad at it,” said Collins. “If you are not good at it, you are basically told it does not really matter and then you just do something else. While we focus on the EBacc and the exams people take when they are 16 and 18, the issue is that arts are not an ingrained part of education at a much earlier stage of a child’s education.”

John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation suggested that “Brexit may be the trigger for some progress on this”, adding: “You can reconcile a totally legitimate requirement for academic rigour with the notion of much stronger arts and cultural education.”

Kampfner also added that “careers advice feels very analogue, very 20th century, in terms of failing to embrace the tech sector and the creative sector as well”.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England spoke in more detail about the issues in the educational system and how music hubs are helping to address the balance.

“We ought to say there is a way ahead and there are models that show the way ahead, although I completely agree with what you have said, John, about where the problems are in the education system,” he said. “We had music education falling away, and four or five years ago the Arts Council, working with the Department for Education, received £75 million a year – we now have that funding guaranteed for the next three years – to set up music hubs to revivify and form new alliances around the provision of music education around the country. Some of them are working really well. There is a whole series of ways in which we can address it, and I think the model may be there.

“I will give you one other example, which is the Arts Council working with the Sorrell Foundation, which happens to chair the Creative Industries Federation as well. That is providing Saturday morning clubs, but only 60 of them, for kids in state schools who are interested in art and design and who are not getting the break, the opportunity or the stimulus at school.”

He concluded: “They can go into professional places, architects’ offices, artists’ galleries and so on, on Saturday mornings and professionals give them classes. They are there because they want to be there. They are the lifeblood of our future creative industries. If we had 600, not 60, Saturday clubs, we would be in a better place.”

You can read the full transcript of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting here.

Tags: music education , brexit , eu exit , arts education

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