Research shows secondary music education is at risk

Research by the University of Sussex (UoS) has found that music education is at risk of disappearing from UK secondary schools. 464 schools took part, covering the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.

The headline finding is that 15.4% fewer centres offered A Level music in 2018-19 compared to 2016-17, while 31.7% fewer offered A Level music technology. The number of schools offering music in year 7 through GCSE also declined.

“Our recent research highlights that the situation is now at crisis point in many secondary schools,” said UoS senior research fellow in education Ally Daubney. “We need to act now in order to reverse this decline and find ways to support schools to offer a sustained music education for all.”

Daubney and her team cited the new EBacc qualification as one of the reasons for the decline in music. Music is not listed as one of EBacc’s core subjects, which means there is less incentive to study it. In fact, the UoS researchers believe some schools are actively discouraging students from taking music an EBacc option.

Further, UoS found that music teachers are increasingly being asked to teach other subjects – over 70% of research responders. As a result, the researchers predict that many secondary school music teachers could be made redundant over the next few years.

A full summary of results can be found at the UoS website.