Labour vows music lessons will be as important as maths and English | UK | News

A Labour government would revolutionise the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) system to ensure Britain’s in-crisis music education system can flourish.

In a potential game-changing win for the Daily Express’s Strike A Chord crusade, Sir Keir Starmer hit out at the performance measure, introduced under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010, which scores students of English literature and language but not arts subjects.

The system – along with Progress 8 – has created a cliff-edge of pupils dropping music when choosing GCSE lessons because it has not been valued as highly as English, maths or science subjects.

That has resulted in the number of A-level students in state schools halving in the past decade and GCSE numbers dropping by over 19 percent. Some schools spend less than £1 a year per pupil on music provision and the negative impact is being felt by a dramatic drop in university course numbers.

The music industry is worth £6billion to the UK economy every year and is one of the nation’s greatest success stories on the global stage. But industry chiefs say without a talent pipeline starting in schools, it could be lost forever.

In a landmark speech, Sir Keir said a future Labour administration would change the curriculum “straight away”, so creativity is “woven into everything our children learn” and that “creative skills won’t be treated as a luxury, but as a necessity”.

Such a move to amend the EBacc and include music in Progress 8 would represent another key victory for the Express campaign, which influenced the Conservative government’s decision to invest £100million in buying 200,000 new instruments for schools.

Starmer said: “Right now one measure of excellence is the Tory EBacc – an accountability measure that values Latin and Ancient Greek but not music, drama or art.

“Seriously – in what world does learning to act, dance, sing, or paint count for less than learning a language from more than 1,000 years ago?

“The ancient Romans and Greeks would have had something to say about that.”

Welcoming the news, Deborah Annetts, of the Independent Society of Musicians, said: “Plans to reform accountability measures and ensure that the arts are included in Progress 8 is absolutely wonderful news. This will make such a difference to access to music education in our schools.”

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