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The following information provides background to the provision of whole class instrumental/vocal teaching in schools and to the reorganisation of music education delivery through ‘Music Education Hubs’, which came into effect in September 2012.

Background to Whole Class Instrumental/Vocal Teaching (also known as Wider Opportunities)

Wider Opportunities grew out of the Labour Government’s pledge that “over time, every primary school child that wants to, should have the opportunity of learning a musical instrument” (2001). It introduced instrumental learning and vocal teaching in large groups (whole classes) to UK primary schools (Key Stage 2).

The programme set out to increase the number of children learning a musical instrument and for many of the children involved it represented their first opportunity to receive such tuition.

It was found that programme had a significant impact, not only on pupils’ musical achievements, but also on their attainment and attitudes to learning across the curriculum. As a result, the government now aims that 100% of children in state education receive instrumental tuition, for a minimum of 1 term, generally through whole class instrumental/vocal teaching.

Music Education Hubs

In 2011, the Government asked Darren Henley (Managing Director of Classic FM) to carry out a review of music education in England. Darren Henley’s review into Music Education in England identified that there were inequalities in provision, with a “musical divide” between those wealthier children with access to great musical education and children in disadvantaged areas.

In response, the Government published a National Plan for Music Education that recognises the importance of music in the lives of young people and sets out ways in which young people from every background can have access to quality music education. One of the outcomes of this plan has been the reorganisation of music education delivery through ‘Music Education Hubs’ from Sept 2012, most of which are formed by partnerships between Local Authorities, schools and music/arts organisations such as venues, orchestras, youth projects and conservatoires. The aim is to create a more joined up approach to music education.

Hubs are funded by Arts Council England and are tasked to give all children the opportunity to:

  • learn an instrument
  • make music with others
  • learn to sing
  • progress in their musical learning

Hubs provide instrumental lessons, bands, choirs, orchestras, and other music-making opportunities in and out of school for all children aged 3 – 19 in their local area. They also have responsibility for training teachers and staff. Many cover individual boroughs or counties in the UK, but some are larger and provide services across a wider area. The new hubs will build on the work of music services, which have been providing children with these kinds of opportunities to primary school children (age 5-11) for many years. Most Music Services still exist and either lead hubs and are involved in them.

Although the establishment of Music Education Hubs has seen government commit to funding of music education for 3 years – at a time of austerity – funding will decrease by 20% over three years. This may require Music Education Hubs to work in new ways, access new sources of income, pass on costs to schools/parents and/or make cuts in their staffing or provision.

For more information about hubs visit the Music Mark website.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) have also produced Music hubs what you need to know.

Finding work

If you are finding it hard to get jobs with a music service due to lack of experience (particularly if you lack experience in whole class instrumental/vocal teaching), you could always try contacting the music service that is leading the music education hub in your area and ask if you can observe experienced teachers working with individuals or groups.  You can then include this work shadowing experience on a CV or application form when applying for jobs.