A tip-off that an announcement about the National Plan for Music is to happen on 7 November at Music for Youth’s Schools Prom at the Royal Albert Hall is good news for the music education sector. But a worrying caveat is that a second source told me the announcement is unlikely to contain any information about funding.
If my first source is correct, the announcement will be made by education secretary Michael Gove himself, who is already scheduled to speak at the Schools Prom that night. Leaving aside the fact that the announcement is now extremely late, things could go one of two ways. Mr Gove could tell us exactly how much will be spent on ‘hubs’ over the next year, and exactly how they will work. Or, if my second source is correct, he could announce that music will be delivered through ‘hubs’ and that funding and practical details will be forthcoming. This would be pointless and would add nothing to what we already know.
On Monday I had the pleasure of judging Classic FM’s Music Teacher of the Year awards. It will be the last year that the teachers’ GCSE uptake figures will not be affected by the EBacc; it will also be the last year before hubs kick in.
What was noticeable was that London teachers were already showing signs of good partnership work, which I would have expected given the growing currency of the idea of partnerships and the abundance of potential partner organisations in the capital. But the teachers whom we judged to be outstanding but who were not based in London did not show so much partnership work. They were interacting with other schools and the community in excellent, ‘traditional’ ways, but in some areas there just aren’t the arts organisations to partner with.
If Michael Gove fails to put any flesh on the bones of the National Plan on 7 November, the music education community should consider taking more radical action than the mild muttering we have engaged in up to now (leaving aside the excellent lobbying work of an active minority). The biggest worry with hubs and the National Plan is the potential unevenness of provision. The announcement needs to address this, or at least show that it is aware of it. Otherwise we could be heading for meltdown.