National Music Hubs – Collaboration Key to Music Education

Transformation is afoot in music education. Changes in funding, pedagogy reforms and timetable upheavals have combined to create a significant shift in how music is taught. From September 2024, new music Hub Lead Organisations (HLOs) will add further uncertainty to the mix. The key to making the new structures work? Strong schools’ leadership, parental engagement, and organisational collaboration.

 

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Change is always tough. Even for those who see themselves as agents of change, the process of starting a new thing can cause times of disorientation, uncertainty and insecurity. 

Never did those words ring more true than today. 

Unfortunately, uncertainty seems to have become a permanent fixture of the educational landscape, particularly when it comes to arts education. 

Due to changes in funding formula along with school pedagogy reforms and timetabling upheavals from Covid catch-up, pupils have increasingly moved away from arts subjects such as dance, music and art, and towards more traditional academic subjects such as geography and English.

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

But with proper collaboration among local/regional Music Hubs plus support from specialist music providers like Sing Education, there are some bright spots on the horizon. 

Learn how your school can avoid key pitfalls when developing, funding and assessing your music programme, as well as how to make good on the promises safeguarded in the National Plan for Music Education.

A child in a yellow sweater is practicing piano, with their focus on a sheet music book propped open on the music stand. The perspective is from above, capturing the child's hands on the keys and the reflection of the music notes on the polished surface of the piano.
A young child and an adult are seated, each holding an acoustic guitar, focused on their instruments. The child appears to be playing, looking intently at the strings, while the adult watches, ready to guide or play along. A music stand with sheet music is positioned between them, suggesting a learning or practice session. The background is a textured wall, providing a calm and neutral setting for the musical interaction.

All Change for Music Hubs - Challenge, Crisis, Constraint

When it comes to music education, UK central government has broad ambitions for change. 

From the 2024/25 academic year forward, it is making sweeping changes to the way local music hubs are funded, operate and measure their success. 

Key among those shifts is a 63% reduction in the number of hubs across the country. This not only results in a tremendously streamlined bidding process for the contracts needed to operate a Hub but by necessity also engenders a massive transformation in the way music hubs make good on the revised National Plan for Music Education (NPME). 

What’s more, given a very tight timeline for tender submission, existing Hubs and other music education providers wishing to participate in the process were only given four months to develop strategic partnerships, collaborate on new large-scale music initiatives and deliver a joined-up, comprehensive bid. 

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

“All these existing hubs/services are local authority-linked, all have different setups, different models, and have their own identity,” he said.

We are expected to create a brand-new working model across seven local authorities – all with their own identity – with shared vision, priorities, and goals, all within a four-month [application] window. 

This does not take into consideration all existing commitments, running of services, and annual leave. The level of planning and conversations required to make this happen is immense.

Everyone would agree that ‘doing with’ is better than ‘doing to’ – we are now charged with responding to a top-down process that creates more challenge, more crisis-management, and potentially less creativity due to the constraints.”  AP2

Making Good on New Hub Structure - Leadership, Stigma, Buy-in

Is there no hope?

David James, Professor of Law and Social Sciences at the University of Suffolk, believes there is room for hope. But says it balances on three key factors, none of which have been particularly well-accounted for in the Music Hub reshuffle to come.

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

As co-author of an influential research study mapping music education across Suffolk, Professor James found the following elements needed to be in place to boost the chances of proper functioning across the national Music Hub structure:

  •  Commitment of a school’s leadership
    • Learning music is viewed by some leaders in schools with higher levels of deprivation nationally as key to improving wider school outcomes or other subject areas. Not least, music education has a positive impact on motivation, wellbeing and creativity which can positively impact students in other subjects or their broader school career. SW
  • Addressing stigma around playing a musical instrument
    • Against this backdrop of a stigma, it seems that teachers and providers can benefit from refining the fit between their music education and the young people they teach – broadening musical styles and considering the process of music-making much more widely. SW
  • Highlight the merits of music education for parents and carers

Parents who understand the benefits of music education and music-making can increase the engagement and progression of their children in the subject – even if the parents are not musical themselves. SW

A woman sits at a kitchen table, appearing contemplative or tired, with papers and a laptop in front of her, while a man stands behind her, talking on the phone with a serious expression. The setting suggests a moment of domestic life, possibly involving work or personal matters, with a mug and calculator also on the table, indicating a blend of household and professional or financial activities.
A teacher with a lanyard gestures enthusiastically during a classroom activity, engaging with a diverse group of students who are mostly out of focus in the foreground. Another educator assists by holding a tablet, while in the background, more students can be seen in a school hall with chairs and a presentation screen, creating an atmosphere of interactive learning.

Cost of Living Crisis - Impacting Hubs, Schools, Parents

Lastly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the impact of our current economic climate and the impact that this is having on the ability of Hubs, schools and parents to negotiate central government funding cuts, local authority funding shortfalls and lack of discretionary household income due to the cost of living crisis.

In survey research undertaken by music charity, Music Mark, the financial conditions undergirding music education are stark. Costs for venues were reported rising by as much as 100% year over year with additional costs for lessons, ensembles and instrument hire going up by nearly 6-9%. That’s not to mention increasing energy bills, instrument maintenance costs or travel costs necessary to deliver current music programming.

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

“83% of hubs and services that responded to the survey said they are facing rising costs relating to building hire, including teaching and performance spaces. Music Mark heard anecdotal evidence that, in some instances, venue costs are rising at over 100% a year.

Respondents also shared evidence of increasing energy bills, travel expenses, fuel, and instrument and repair costs, with some being unable to afford to repair instruments.

To meet rising costs, lesson prices have had to increase. On average, lessons have risen by 6.61%, ensemble prices by 8.41% and the price of instrumental hire by 6.26%.” AP1

Sing Education - With You All the Way

Sing Education is a more exciting and rewarding way to do primary music. 

Our core philosophy is that “Every Child Has A Voice,” and, as educators active in the classroom, our directors and teachers know first-hand how much young learners benefit from exciting, rewarding music education.

We provide a 360° wraparound provision which takes all the guesswork out of developing a rich and varied music programme. From curriculum design to PPA cover to absence management and SEND inclusion, our peripatetic music solution can be shaped to meet your needs.

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

As part of our consultancy services, we plug our partner schools into a national network of learning excellence – smoothing the transition from primary to secondary pedagogy. We also build bridges between our schools and their local Music Hubs, commercial instrument suppliers, co-curricular arts organisations and more!

And as we teach to the National Curriculum for Music we know our bespoke learning schema will help pupils progress from EYFS settings all the way to university and beyond – as far as pupils’ orchestral, composition, engineering or other career aspirations will take them.

On a practical level, we work closely with headteachers and music coordinators to help you research and write your music development plan, supporting the areas for growth, whether this be staff CPD, enrichment opportunities or giving children access to more weekly curricular and co-curricular music.

Lastly, we know our pupils are having fun. 

When they engage with our high-energy, singing-led lessons they are finding out why they love music – as well as growing in their technical capacity, improving their self-confidence and wellbeing and most importantly building a musical foundation to last a lifetime. 

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

To learn more about Sing Education, including how our music provision, online instrumental lessons and at-home learning resources contribute to a well-rounded music curriculum, please visit www.singeducation.co.uk/schools


About Us

Founded in 2014 and serving more than 28,000 children each week, Sing Education is a first class provider of primary school music education. Focusing on high-quality, singing-led tuition, we deliver a complete solution for schools which includes teacher recruitment, training and management, bespoke curricular resources and educational consultancy services. 

Through music lessons, singing assemblies, choirs, after school clubs and instrumental tuition, Sing Education works with students from Nursery right through to Year 6. Our core philosophy is that “Every Child Has A Voice,” and, as educators active in the classroom, our directors and teachers know firsthand how much young learners benefit from exciting, rewarding music education. 

Sing Education currently partners with schools throughout Greater London and Kent, as well as Yorkshire and the Humber. 

Not yet on the list? Please enquire about our expansion plans for additional areas we will serve during the 2024-25 academic year.

singeducation.co.uk/schools

#SingEducation #PrimarySchoolMusicEducation #EveryChildHasAVoice

 

Sources:

  1. How can we secure better music education for all? SW Schools Week
  2. Music hubs losing pupils and schools over rising costs AP1 Arts Professional

Music education hub reforms ‘immensely challenging’ AP2 Arts Professional

A group of enthusiastic schoolchildren, clad in green uniforms with school crests, are seated on the floor, actively participating in a group activity. Their expressions are animated and joyful as they raise their hands and clap, fully engaged in the interactive learning experience. The atmosphere is lively and collaborative, highlighting the children's enjoyment and involvement in the educational moment.

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