We have announced plans to work alongside music industry experts to develop a refreshed national plan for music education. This is aimed at shaping the future of music education and follows the publication of the non-statutory “Model Music Curriculum: Key Stages 1, 2 and 3” earlier this year. The curriculum is designed to ensure that children are introduced to a wide repertoire of music, as well as learning to read and write musical notation and being given knowledge about the important moments in the evolution of music in a range of genres and traditions.
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s commitment to refreshing the national music plan because, as I hope he recognises, music education is central to any civilised society and should not be regarded as an add-on or a nice-to-have. He will share my concern that in the 10-year currency of the previous plan, the number of pupils sitting GCSE music declined by 19%. Organisations such as the Bromley Youth Music Trust in my constituency do a great deal of excellent work outside school time, but will he assure me that the plan’s key objective will be to ensure that music education remains firmly mainstreamed within the curriculum and is not simply an add-on at unreasonable cost to parents?
I share my hon. Friend’s passion for music. It is important that music is part of a broad and balanced education in our schools. That is why it is compulsory at key stages 1, 2 and 3. We introduced the model music curriculum so that children have a good grounding that encourages them to go on to take music at GCSE. Over the past decade or longer, about 5% to 7 % of the cohort have taken a music GCSE. I would like to see that figure rise, and that is why we introduced the model music curriculum and are refreshing the national plan for music education.
Does the Minister understand that music should be not just taught as music but used to teach a whole range of other subjects? Let me take him back to the previous Labour Government, when I attended Egerton Park Arts College in my constituency as a governor and saw the Manchester Camerata perform a maths lesson using its orchestra instruments. It was absolutely mind-blowing. Do we not need more of that? Why did he scrap arts college specialist status?
I agree that music is an important part of a broad and balanced curriculum. We know there is a link between children who can play a musical instrument and, for instance, mathematics. We see that in schools such as Northampton School for Boys, which is very successful academically and also has more than 20 choirs, ensembles and orchestras, because it puts music at the very top of its priorities as well as sports. I accept everything that the hon. Member says about the importance of music in the school curriculum.