The Department for Education has announced that central funding for the network of 123 music education hubs in England will be more than £75m in 2015/16, described as ‘an £18m funding boost’ by education minister Nick Gibb.
The £75m figure represents a year-on-year increase of nearly 30%, and is a cash terms return to the settlement in 2012-13, the year in which the music hubs system was first implemented. Funding subsequently decreased to £63m in 2013/14 and £58m in 2014/15.
Funding levels after 2016 will be dependent on the result of the 2015 general election.
A DfE statement said the funding ‘will mean thousands more disadvantaged pupils will have access to music lessons and enable hubs to purchase tens of thousands more instruments’.
Gibb said of the move: ‘Music hubs have made a very encouraging start – and now we want to build on that. That is why we are increasing funding by £18million. No children should miss out on the inspiration and excitement that music can bring to their lives.’
Darren Henley, the managing director of Classic FM whose review of England’s music education led to the National Plan for Music Education and the recommendation of the hubs model, said the announcement was ‘great news’.
‘I’m delighted the Department of Education is now spending even more in this vital area. Music hubs have already helped hundreds of thousands of children try a musical instrument, sing or join a choir or orchestra.’
The Incorporated Society of Musicians established the Protect Music Education Campaign earlier this year, initially in response to a DfE consultation document position on local authority funding of music education. It said the announcement was ‘a substantial victory for the Protect Music Education campaign’.
‘The campaign has been a united voice for music education, defending key funding ever since the Government launched a damaging consultation in March 2014 suggesting local authorities stop funding their music services.’
The ISM’s chief executive, Deborah Annetts, said: ‘This is wonderful news for all children and young people. This funding is a critical component in ensuring that access to music education is there and we welcome this decision by the new secretary of state.
‘We now hope that all political parties will commit to music education funding until 2020 and that the Department for Education remove the damaging guidance to local authorities when they respond to the recent consultation.’
England’s music education sector had been waiting for details of funding after next March for some time, with the awarding body, Arts Council England, having committed to funding the same hubs as are currently in place rather than run a reallocation process.
An ACE spokesperson told CM in June that ‘given the time scales involved we do not intend to run a bidding process for 2015-16. Existing arrangements will remain in place until the end of the financial year 2015-16, letting hubs focus on improving quality and delivery.’
A DfE statement said: ‘A key objective of music hubs is to give every 5- to 18-year-old the chance to learn to play an instrument as part of whole class tuition for at least a term.
‘Many hubs are also subsidising instrument hire to those on low incomes so nobody’s background is a barrier to music. For example, in Hull instrument hire is for all who are having music lessons at their Music Hub. In Brighton instruments can be hired for £37 a term but families on low incomes can hire an instrument for free.’