Reflections on the Report from the DfE Call for Evidence



HMG has reached out to all parties to gain feedback to inform a new “National Plan for Music”. The “National Plan for Music” encapsulates the Department for Education’s vision for music, enabling young people in England to have the opportunity to play instruments, sing, make music with others and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence (from their existing level of excellence, I guess?).

The main topics the DfE wanted to gain insight into were:

  • Levels of awareness of the National Plan for Music and Music Education Hubs.
  • How effective the National Plan has been in delivering the Government’s vision for music education.
  • Views on the current provision of music education, including the role of Music Education Hubs.

Having looked at the report in some detail here is my number one response:

As a sector we need to stop talking to ourselves and engage with the broader population of parents, teachers, policy makers and artists.

This was the music education sector’s big chance to influence the DfE, using the department’s own terms and rules, literally speaking truth (although filtered) to power.

Who has engaged in this (bothered to respond or even knew it was happening!)?

4136 individuals responded from the whole of England.

(By the way, in 2020 there were 8.1 million school pupils in England in over 20,000 state primary and secondary schools with over 20% receiving free school meals).

Of these 4136 individuals 1660 were parents or carers (0.02% of the number of pupils), 275 a young person or child aged 13-25, 202 were a head teacher or education leader with the remaining engaged in music in some form of professional standing or "other" at an interesting 656.

Unsurprisingly organisations (many of whom are in some way dependent on funding from the DfE and their fund managers ACE, directly or indirectly) did better with 1013 responses. That lead me to muse on the idea that if every organisation that responded had encouraged or enabled 10 extra individuals to respond (preferably parent/carers or young people) then the respondent numbers for the whole survey would have grown from 5191 to 15,591! (Still only representing 0.2% of pupils but an order of magnitude higher!).

Somehow the broader public needs to be engaged, I suppose at the end of the day DfE hold ultimate responsibility for this, did they try reaching out using a more modern way of working with children and young people like social media; ticktock, insta, YouTube etc or the same for parents plus; Mumsnet, alumni groups from national and regional ensembles? I sure not, but on the other hand did we use this as the music education sector?

Maybe some of us did reach out this way?

I’d love to hear about any attempts and success stories if you did?

Contact Chris