It’s out! Seven lines into the National Plan for Music Education (in England, and school age only, conservatoires are not included) and the word “jazz” appears; and this is in the foreword by the Education and Culture Secretaries!
So, after much delay, the Plan has arrived, and, remarkably, there is much to celebrate. Education Department funding for music education for 5-18 year olds is promised, in terms, for another three years from 2012, albeit as a downward trend (£77m, £65m and £60m), but significant nonetheless. Arguably the most welcome feature of the Plan is proposed steps to address the long-standing imbalance in funding for music services between areas. And the Government’s new, in-house Teaching Agency, still in the process of being set up, will be charged with developing a teacher training module to boost new primary teachers’ skills and confidence in teaching music. We will be pressing for a distinctive jazz element here.
The Plan is not without risk. Arts Council England suffered draconian cuts in resources and staffing yet under the Plan it will assume responsibility for implementing a proposed new schools’ music education structure based on area hubs. That will entail assessing bids for funds from would-be hubs – an existing successful LEA music service will stand a very good chance of succeeding, of course – and then monitoring performance once funding has been granted. That’s a big new responsibility. Then, by 2013, the ACE, working with Creative & Cultural Skills, is expected to have facilitated development of a new music education qualification with a view to achieving a more professional workforce.