Question for Short Debate
My Lords, I remind noble Lords that I chair the All-Party Group on Classical Music and that I am chair of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. I thank noble Lords from all four quarters of the House for having stayed on, eating deep into their well deserved Recess, to show that they recognise the utmost importance of the subject that I am raising, albeit for a relatively limited number of people.
The pianist Paul Wittgenstein—brother of the philosopher—had an arm amputated in World War I. He subsequently approached all the best contemporary composers seeking works that he could play. That is why we are blessed with Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand. By a remarkable coincidence, that wonderful concerto figures in the BBC Proms tonight, played by Alexandre Tharaud, although it is perhaps unfortunate that he is a two-handed pianist and the concert is introduced by the British professional one-handed pianist Nicholas McCarthy.
This is by no means the only piece of left-handed piano music. There are, for example, Godowsky's 53 transcriptions of the Chopin études for the left hand. Hearing is believing. I recently heard the extraordinary Goan-born pianist Karl Lutchmayer in Alkan's fantasy for the left-hand. It is to Karl that I owe the insight that in one way the piano is better played left-handed as the top fingers in the left hand are strong fingers—the second finger and the thumb. In the right hand, they are weak fingers—the little finger and the fourth finger—which do not sing out as clearly as the stronger fingers would.
Sadly, the piano is one of the few instruments that can be played left-handed. My wife, who has only one functional arm, is confined to singing, as she does with gusto, in a choir—perhaps she should join the noble Lord, Lord German, in the Parliament Choir—but she could not play an instrument even if she wished to because she has the use of only one arm.
The lack of instruments excludes from music any youngster with disabilities affecting the arms in particular, although there are other disabilities that need to be catered for. The Government grandiosely declared in The Importance of Music: a National Plan for Music Education in 2011 that every child should have the opportunity to learn an instrument and progress to musical education. Perhaps he had not read about this debate, but only last week, Nick Gibb, the responsible Minister said:
“No children should miss out on the inspiration and excitement that music can bring to their lives”.
Amen to that, but the people who penned those sentences had not really given any thought to children with disabilities, who are wholly or mostly excluded from this.
This is a curious omission. No one doubts the importance of music in education for people facing mental challenges. Examples abound of children with profound learning difficulties where music provides a vibrant way of connecting them. They respond to it like nothing else on earth. We would not tolerate for an instant an education system that said that children with disabilities should be excluded from sport—certainly not in the light of the Paralympics and what they see from Glasgow this week. However, nobody seems to give a thought to physical handicap and music.
Clearly, one obstacle is the lack of musical instruments which can be played with limited arm capacity. The violin, for example, provides obvious difficulties. I want to draw attention, as mine was drawn, to the work of a wonderful small charity, the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust. Among other things, it runs a competition for inventors of one-handed instruments. For example, in 2013 it was won by the toggle-key saxophone built for a stroke survivor. This has the full facility of a saxophone but is played with the fingers of one hand. There are one-handed recorders. I think there is a one-handed flute and I read somewhere that there was a one-handed French horn player somewhere. The OHMI is also collaborating with researchers on electronic musical instrument developments to ensure that disabled musicians can take part in a full range of music-making. Maybe one day there will be a one-handed violin, although it will be a digital one-handed violin.
Such instruments can be expensive, although not as expensive as a Stradivarius, I may say. A toggle-key saxophone costs about £15,000. First, not many people would need those instruments, so we are not talking about a huge expense. Secondly, as the number ordered goes up, the price goes down. Indeed, I think that that is happening with one-handed recorders, for which there is a certain demand. We need to invest a bit in teachers. I know that HMI is developing a plan for a national teaching project in the use of those instruments.
So an attempt is being made at progress, but the real problem behind all the concrete problems that I have identified is one of awareness. If no one knows or thinks about the problem, nothing much will be done about it. We know that music education faces serious challenges. Following the admirable Henley report and the emergence of music hubs, there was a surge of optimism, but provision has turned out to be patchy, at best. Needless to say, and without being a cracked CD disc, cuts in money are real obstacles. However, the £18 million extra for music education announced by the Government last week is very welcome, and a small fraction of that could do wonders for young, disabled would-be musicians.
That is not the only way that Ministers can help with this unique challenge. I am not asking the noble Lord, Lord Nash, for a blank cheque, nor for promises of legislation, nor even for a White Paper or a consultative document; nor that the new Education Secretary casts aside her responsibilities to tour the country crusading on behalf of this single objective. However, I ask the Minister to affirm that this is something of which the Government are aware; I ask for a strong statement that the Government recognise its importance; and I ask for a commitment by Ministers and their officials to raise it as part of their work in propagating music education.
If there is one thing worse than wrestling with an intractable problem, it is wrestling with an intractable problem when the world does not seem to know or care. The Minister has an opportunity to put that right today.
My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey. I am sometimes inclined to refer to him as my noble friend, because we work together on a number of issues, not least the all-party group to which he referred. I will refer to what he said, but I must begin by congratulating him on the timing of this debate. As he pointed out, it was only last week that the Government announced a substantial increase in the funds for musical education. He made the point that part of that fund might be used to provide for handicapped children.
As was reported by that admirable body, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the Department for Education has dedicated £75 million to support music education hubs in 2015-16, an increase of £17 million from 2014-15. Against the background of the general atmosphere of austerity, that is a remarkable achievement, and I congratulate the Government on it.
The noble Lord referred to one-handed instruments. I am lucky enough to share a room with my noble friend Lord Colwyn, who, as I think we all know, is a formidable trumpet player. He has a friend who plays a trumpet with one hand. That friend’s problem is that he always has to have someone else to turn over the page, but it can be done. I will cite another example in a moment.
I draw the Minister’s attention to two of my own experiences of dealing with handicapped musicians. At school, I was lucky enough to be able to learn both the piano and violin, and when I reached secondary school, I found that the head of music there, a Dr Douglas Fox, had only a left arm. He had set out to be and would have been an absolutely outstanding concert pianist, but his right arm was shot off in World War I. He proved to be an inspiring music teacher. Not only did he teach me to play the piano—not very expertly, but I got enormous enjoyment out of it—but he conducted the school orchestra and choral society. Years later, as president of the school, I had a very interesting talk with the then music director and asked him what he was doing with choral and orchestral works, telling him what we had done back in the 1940s, and he said, “There is no way we could do that now”. I doubt that—but the fact of the matter is that Douglas Fox, despite his one arm, had a huge influence on literally thousands of pupils that passed through the school while he was music director. It is an object lesson of what a handicapped person can achieve. The noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, mentioned Ravel’s “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand”, which he performed at concerts several times, up and down the country. As he was a brilliant pianist, it was absolutely suited to his abilities and talents, and we were all very proud of him. I cite that as an example of what can be achieved.
Douglas Fox made one very bad error. In my house I was not the only violinist—there were three others—but none of us was very expert. We had a house music competition, and when we looked for something that we might perform he said, “What about the Bach passacaglia for four violins?”. I will draw a veil over what happened. It was a disaster—four teenaged boys trying to play what is really a very difficult Bach passacaglia. Nevertheless, the ambition was there; we were inspired to try, and that in itself is worth while.
The other aspect to which I would like to draw attention, again mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, is that of children with severe learning difficulties. My daughter is a professional singer and has sung with the parliamentary choir and as a soloist. She had a friend who had a little girl very severely affected with learning difficulties. Jessie was a child to whom it was extremely difficult to get through with ordinary speech and normal parental emotion, but they discovered that she could respond very positively to music, which provided a bridge to the rest of the community for that child. She did not survive long but, in her memory, her parents set up what is now called Jessie’s Fund to provide resources to help to educate parents and teachers on what can be done through music to help even the most severely impaired children. It is an inspiration. If anybody wants to know anything more about it, there is a website called jessiesfund.org.uk.
I hope that those two examples will show how, in one case, a disabled teacher was able to have an enormous influence on many hundreds—indeed, thousands—of his pupils and, in the other, how music can help even the most seriously affected child with learning difficulties when other approaches have failed. I hope that they underline the importance of giving as many children as possible, even if they suffer from handicaps, the chance of playing in an orchestra, singing or whatever it may be—a musical education. I look forward very much to my noble friend’s reply.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, for this debate and particularly for his skill in ensuring that the promenade concert programme was organised around the timetable of the House of Lords.
I am sure that it is quite clear to all of us here today that music education for children with physical disabilities presents great opportunities, because it removes barriers to helping people with their own esteem. The good news is that the capacity for change exists. The challenge, however, is getting the necessary support and funding in place. I, too, welcome the increased funding for music hubs in England; I wait to see what happens in Wales. The extra funding needs to help bring forward the right equipment and, more importantly, to ensure that there are properly trained staff engaged to make real progress.
The figures that we have from Ofsted show that between 2008 and 2011, only 6% of students with disabilities were involved in learning a musical instrument, compared to 14% of students without a disability. That is a clear disparity. There was also a consultation by Drake Music in 2012, which revealed that there are still a number of barriers to overcome with regard to effective music education for disabled children. There need to be improvements in the areas of organisation, training and equipment provision. Nevertheless, the capacity to have change and a music education for those with disabilities exists. I am sure that many noble Lords will, like me, have seen the schools which support children with special needs and where music is part of the curriculum. There have been some outstanding examples of providing effective and professional music teaching. The benefits coming out of the schools where we can see that work are an exemplar that we can translate to the education system across all schools.
I have no doubt that all colleagues would agree that music education leads to a more fulfilling life for disabled children. It uses musical experiences to provide better physical and mental health. A number of studies have assessed these applications but there is now overwhelming evidence to show that there are benefits. As we know, disability is highly complex, but physical and mental disabilities are interconnected. The problems of physical disability are intertwined with the communicative difficulties experienced by those who are mentally disabled. In order to encourage the better use of music education, we should therefore consider the benefits for those who are both physically and mentally disabled. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, will not mind if I address mental disabilities as well.
A number of studies from those dealing with physical disability have shown that playing an instrument improves joint function, co-ordination and strength for those who are physically impaired. It also provides rehabilitation for those children who are struggling to involve themselves in standard group activity because of pain, fear, or anxiety. It therefore has the therapeutic potential to enhance the lives of the physically disabled. I want to look at the benefits in addressing mental disability. The studies that we have before us today, including the briefing from the Library, show that music education has the ability to improve social interaction, both verbal and non-verbal. It also involves an improvement in emotional understanding and greatly increases the quality of relationships, not just between child and child but between a child and their friends and family. The evidence is clear: music therapy offers an alternative form of education, which shows increases in communication and social skills that are superior to standard care.
I pay tribute to the Nordoff Robbins charity, which is probably the largest music therapy support agency in this country, for the work that it has done and for some advice that it has given me. It tells me that complex disability—physical, cognitive, behavioural and communication skills—can isolate an individual from everyday interpersonal activity. As a result, social and personal relationships can falter. Music therapy enables people with complex needs to get an alternative understanding of themselves through the shared experience of music-making with others.
All around us, we are using new technology in music. I doubt that a day passes when we do not experience a new technology being used in a musical way around us. It becomes less and less important, perhaps, for people to have the physical ability to be able to manoeuvre and manipulate instrumentation, with the new technologies available to us. Just as our mobile phones allow us to do things that we would never have thought of five years ago, the new technologies allow us that as regards music. Even those with the most severe disabilities now can operate musical machinery, perhaps with the movement of only a finger or an eyelid, or by using brain-computer music interfaces. It becomes possible for people to make music with others. As complex as it all becomes, the need for keyboards—just as we have a keyboard with our computers—becomes less apparent. New technologies can make a huge difference in this area. As we know, music breaks down barriers. You can communicate with music even if you do not understand the language, and new technologies in music allow that to happen.
The Paralympics provided a very special platform for athletes with disabilities. Will the Government consider establishing and developing a national, or an international, paramusic competition for us to create yet another very special platform to provide opportunity and self-esteem for young people with disabilities? I welcome the extra funding, but I hope that the Government will use some of the extra funding for music to provide some of those opportunities for those with disabilities.
I am delighted to speak in this short debate and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, on obtaining it and on introducing it so well. A number of the points that I was planning to make have already been made, so I will try to adapt my remarks accordingly. The Government’s national plan for music education, which was launched in November 2011, provides an excellent blueprint for maintaining and building on this country’s strong position in the world of music and the many advantages that that brings for our economy, culture and national well-being.
As we have heard, delivery of the plan is the responsibility of the music education hubs, which have four key roles. They must ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make music with others; to learn to sing; and to be able to progress to further levels of achievement. In England, the bulk of funding for these hubs has been provided by the Department for Education, totalling £171 million for the three years 2012-13 to 2014-15. In addition, hubs are expected to draw in further support from local authorities, cultural organisations, businesses, trusts, foundations and philanthropists. I believe that they have been quite successful in doing that.
As we have heard, until last Tuesday, there was considerable concern over the future of government funding for the hubs beyond 2015. In addition, a consultation document issued in March suggested that local authorities should not be using any of their education services grant funds to support music activities. Since support from local authorities amounted to more than £14 million in 2013-14, these two issues cast a worrying shadow over the future prospects of the national plan.
I join other noble Lords who have spoken in welcoming very strongly the announcement last Tuesday that the department’s funding for music education hubs would be increased for 2015-16 to a total of £75 million. At the same time, the advice to local authorities not to use education services grant for music services was withdrawn, not least because of the efforts of the Protect Music Education campaign led by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, which was responsible for the great majority of the responses received. It would be wonderful, of course, to have some commitment on the level of funding for a longer period, say up to 2020, but I appreciate that, with a general election coming up, that might be unrealistic to expect.
The focus of today’s debate is to ensure that the national plan indeed extends to all children, as it aspires to, specifically including children with physical disabilities—although I would add children with special educational needs or in other circumstances of disadvantage.
The helpful briefings that I have received, including from the House of Lords Library and from the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust, which my noble friend Lord Lipsey mentioned, have highlighted many impressive and often inspiring and heart-warming musical education initiatives for children with special needs. I have watched moving videos about the delivery of Drake Music’s introduction to music course at Treloar school for physically disabled children in Hampshire, and about singing activities at the Stephen Hawking School for children with severe learning difficulties in Tower Hamlets. According to the DfE, nearly 80,000 disadvantaged and more than 30,000 special needs students took part in instrumental ensembles and choirs in 2012-13.
However, it seems—for example, from a 2012 Ofsted report—that students with disabilities or special needs or who are eligible for free school meals are considerably less likely to be involved in musical activities than others. Some of the reasons cited include shortage of teacher time, absence of suitable spaces and facilities in schools, low expectations of what such students can achieve musically and lack of suitably adapted instruments and technology. Perhaps some of the extra funding from the Government could help the hubs to address those needs, as the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, mentioned.
I believe that a smaller proportion of special needs children take music GCSEs. The national plan raised the issue of whether music technology could help to address that issue. Perhaps the Minister will comment on whether there have been any developments in that direction.
On its website, the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust lists a remarkable range of resources to help children and others with physical disabilities to take part in musical activities, including specially adapted instruments, such as those which the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, mentioned, electronic aids, organisations providing help in this area and performers with disabilities. The latter provide some quite remarkable role models to demonstrate what levels of music-making can be achieved by people with disabilities, such as Nicholas McCarthy, the only one-handed pianistic graduate from the Royal College of Music and the extraordinary horn player Felix Kleiser, who has no arms but plays the French horn to world-class standard entirely with his feet. The website does not state who turns the pages for him.
My question today is: how can the Government built on their very welcome provision of extra funding for the national plan to support and extend those activities and others like them so that it achieves its laudable goal of being available to all schoolchildren, whatever their circumstances and abilities? What can they do to monitor and increase the participation of children with special needs in musical activities and to assess its effectiveness? How can they help schools to obtain the special instruments needed; have access to technological solutions for music learning or composition; raise awareness of what can be and is being achieved for and by children with disabilities; share good practice through facilitating production of the sort of videos that I have been watching; train teachers to work with such children; or provide opportunities for young people with disabilities to experience live music?
I have another question. In March 2012, the Government set up a monitoring board for the national plan, which was to meet three times a year to review the overall performance of the plan and of the hubs. Have those meetings been taking place and, if so, what have been the views of the board on the progress of the plan so far, particularly in relation to disabled and special needs students?
There are some excellent organisations doing fine work in this field. The Government have already given a lead by setting up the national plan and giving commitment to its funding. What more will they do now to help to join up the work that is going on, to leverage its effectiveness and to ensure that young people with disabilities or other disadvantages are at the forefront of those taking part in and benefiting from the plan?
My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for the opportunity for us to discuss such an important topic as music and children with physical disabilities. I see music and differently abled children as going together like the proverbial horse and carriage. As a Music Therapy trustee, I recall a boy with an immovable body and just one flailing arm. A music therapist sat beside him—an elderly lady—and went tap, tap, tap with a tiny drum and she watched his arm. She came back several times a week to sit beside him. She tried to follow his flailing arm with the tapping of the drum and after weeks of external pursuit by the musician of drum-arm co-ordination, with the drum determinedly chasing the formless jerking of the wandering arm, the boy’s mind had taken in the principle and the arm began to lead the drummer. Many months on, his arm was steady, controlled and he began to be able to take food to his face and his face regained control. After a while he found himself and he could eat, masticate and swallow. His life was transformed by music therapy.
I recall another boy who was completely unable to control any of his limbs and was confined to a wheelchair at the age of 11. He became a pupil. Little by little the clear rhythm of music, played live beside him, focused his mind and body. Time passed and all his limbs and his trunk as well became responsive to the music. That boy learnt to walk and his wheelchair was permanently discarded. Music has powers that other taught subjects cannot replicate. All babies are born with perfect pitch and unknowing of any of their specific personal disabilities. Each one is thus innately musical. All disabilities can be helped by carefully tailored musical training.
One in 1,000 children in England and Wales under three years of age are profoundly or severely deaf. The figure rises to two children in 1,000 between the years of eight and nine. Music can help them too: to speak, lip read, listen more effectively, increase their vocabulary, write better, enhance their sport and physical performance, and socialise. The Mary Hare School for deaf children puts music at the heart of its curriculum. The Mary Hare Foundation’s purpose-built Arlington arts centre houses, among other specialties, the Nordoff Robbins Mary Hare music therapy unit, which teaches pupils individually, from primary to sixth form.
A lively school orchestra with all instruments learns and performs across the music spectrum—an early favourite was something called “Dirty Custard”—and new instruments are sought and found. The recent and beautiful samba instruments were given by the EMI foundation. Volunteers from Vodafone locally often fundraise. Choral singing and individual instrumental performance are regular occurrences for outside audiences. These are profoundly and severely deaf children in the category that I have defined.
I should add that Mary Hare is a non-maintained school, so pupils are funded by the local authorities where they live. Fundraising is therefore essential to help families to send children to that school from around Britain and abroad. Early this year, the then principal, Tony Shaw, learnt that a no-notice inspection by Ofsted was about to begin. It did, in an hour and a quarter. The resultant report declared:
“Exceptional personal and academic opportunities ensure that the school makes an enormous difference to the lives of its Pupils”.
It also said:
“Behaviour is impeccable … Attendance is excellent … Pupils value their school and quickly make friends”.
As the departing principal commented:
“Mary Hare is more like a family, and I know that is a key factor in the success we achieve”.
I spoke to him and I am confident that this success will continue to be delivered under the new principal, Peter Gale, with whom I anticipate working to develop a strong partnership and a transfer of knowledge for the benefit of deaf children in Romania, especially through musical education and performance.
There is one special difficulty that deaf children face, not just in Romania, but in Moldova, Armenia, Ukraine and other countries in the region. Deafness is thought to equal physical dumbness: not just through acquired dumbness, but through some unknown physical deformity or acute illness that has happened to the larynx at birth. In other words, if you are deaf, you are born dumb also. That is physically understood and is taught by teachers to be so. There is therefore no speech at all and no lip reading. Communication is only through sign language.
Sign language is undoubtedly useful. I recall that at the Mary Hare grammar school for the deaf, our patron visited. She was sitting in assembly on the school stage looking rather unhappy. The Duke turned to her and said something silent. The hall rocked; the children could lip-read, and he had said, “Cheer up, cabbage”. So yes, sign language is useful, but lip-reading is a great deal more so. Sign language has massive defects for learning and for the acquisition of speech.
So, after life in special schools in Romania, who understands? Who will communicate? I serve as High Representative for Romanian Children. I chair the Asociatia Children’s High Level Group. I work with the Minister for Education, Remus Pricopie. We tackle all disabilities, physical and other, with musical instruments, sharing, training, singing and dancing, and the results are amazing. At the moment we have 105,000 volunteers from mainstream schools and high schools, with 59,000 beneficiaries from special schools, day centres and small family-type homes—all pupils and all handicaps. They meet three times a week in school time, with two hours of integrated teaching each time, mainly child-to-child and teacher-to-teacher. We do dance and music competitions nationally, singing, dancing and doing drama countrywide. You can see the children—their stiffness goes, their circulation improves and they begin to be able to move, speak, listen, talk and socialise. There is new family life. The teachers, the parents, the church and state are all involved. I recall so well the wheelchair girl triumphantly lifted and circled in the air above the heads of her steady-handed, sure-footed boy volunteers, dancing with her as one world and all getting golds.
The link most generously offered by the Mary Hare School will enable us all to create a bridge of learning, with music central to it, to enable speech, singing, lip-reading and total communication, to start in two pilot schools in Craiova and Bucharest. Thousand upon thousand of hitherto silent children will benefit from the careful expertise developed here in Britain by the Mary Hare School, aided by my old college, the Royal Academy of Music.
I would welcome the Minister’s support for this initiative. I would appreciate a word or two with him at some suitable moment to introduce him to the Romanian Minister for Education when he is here. This may be a way in which Britain’s expertise can be developed and spread more widely still.
My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Lipsey for securing this debate and for his continuing diligence in championing the cause of music education. He has enabled us to have a fascinating debate and to hear some moving examples of how music can be transformative for people with physical disabilities.
As a number of noble Lords have pointed out, the national plan for music education has a clear aspiration of ensuring that children from all backgrounds should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, to make music with others, to learn to sing and to have the opportunity to progress to a level of excellence. It also determined that all schools should provide high quality music education as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. These provisions, combined with the parallel entitlements for children with special educational needs and disabilities to have access to the same quality and standards of education as their peers, ought to have ensured that children with physical disabilities receive quality music education. However, we know that this is not the case, and it is worth exploring some of the barriers to that.
At the outset, we have to acknowledge that music education as a whole in the UK is not in great shape. For example, the numbers taking the subject at GCSE have been dropping, with only 41,500 taking the subject in England in 2012, which is down from 43,100 in 2011. Part of this decline can be explained in retrospect by the rather disastrous decision of the Secretary of State to introduce the EBacc system, which excluded music from the list of subjects to be measured. Despite the change of heart in 2013, which widened the league table subjects to eight, we are being told that music has continued to be squeezed within the overall curriculum. Even more worrying is the evidence that the top-performing schools for music GCSE are overwhelmingly in the independent sector. Therefore, music is in danger of becoming an elite subject, or one that is the preserve of parents who are prepared to pay for lessons, rather than one that is open to all, as was originally intended. That point about access was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and other noble Lords.
We therefore need to consider what more can be done to make the aspirations of the national plan for music education a reality, particularly for children with disabilities. That is important, not only because children with disabilities have the right to equal access to this learning but because it offers another sensory route to expression and communication for children who are denied that through their disability. As the noble Lord, Lord German, pointed out, at its basic level, playing a musical instrument can help develop movement and motor skills. At a higher level, it can offer a unique form of self-expression and engagement—and we have heard some examples of that this afternoon.
First, I concur with the view of a number of noble Lords in the Room that music hubs appear to be working well. The recent government announcement of an increased grant of £75 million to support those hubs is obviously to be welcomed. However, we need to ensure that proper monitoring is in place to ensure that the money is spent wisely. I was collared the other day by some music teachers, who complained to me that the staff employed in the music hub had given themselves rather inflated salaries, at the expense of the music that was meant to be happening in the school. Can the Minister explain how that expenditure is audited and overseen to make sure that the money is being spent properly?
Secondly, we need to ensure that the music hubs collaborate and share resources with the specialist organisations and individuals working in this sector. This afternoon we heard about the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust, which is obviously doing some very innovative work. I was particularly impressed by the work it is doing to create competitions to design accessible musical instruments, which is very much to be lauded. When I was researching this debate, I was struck by the large number of impressive charities that work in this field. However, they all seem to be struggling to fund their work. What funding is being made available? Are we sure that we take adequate notice of the contribution the voluntary sector can make? Perhaps the Minister could comment on that.
Thirdly, we should consider making it a specific requirement of Ofsted to assess the music provision in schools when it carries out an inspection. For example, its own report Music in Schools identified that music hubs sometimes found it difficult to engage with schools that were not providing high quality music education. Surely, if that is the case, and it is a problem, we should know about it. Fourthly, we need to address the failings in initial teacher training for primary school teachers. Weaknesses in primary school music were identified in the Henley review of music education but the training module that was developed was never fully rolled out or funded. Perhaps the Minister could update us on the plans for that.
Finally, as the noble Lord, Lord German, pointed out, we should encourage and support the expansion of music technology and the innovative uses we could make of it to open up new opportunities for children with disabilities to create music. Contemporary music technology can recreate the sounds of musical instruments as well as creating exciting new sounds, and can unite children’s enthusiasm whether or not they have SEN or a disability. I would be interested to know whether the Minister thinks that there is a bigger role for using technology in music to supplement the importance of learning to play an instrument. We have had a very interesting debate today and I have certainly learnt a lot. I very much look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.
I thank all noble Lords for participating in this debate and in particular I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, for securing it. When this debate first came on the agenda, I was concerned, not so much because of its timing, but because I do not know a great deal about the subject matter. However, I have greatly enjoyed reading myself into this debate and listening to the eloquent speeches, which I found extremely interesting. I have been frankly humbled to learn about how much is going on in this area and how powerful music education can be, particularly for children with physical disabilities.
The Government have the same ambition for children with disabilities as they have for all children. We want pupils to achieve well at school, lead happy and fulfilled lives and have choice and control. I have no doubt that music is a key way of achieving this, particularly for pupils with disabilities and SEN. Several noble Lords attested to that today. I remember vividly that when I was doing research into the academies programme I visited a KIPP charter school in a particularly deprived area of New York City where every child is in an orchestra which travels across the United States to perform. It is renowned for its success.
Music has been confirmed as a statutory subject for children between the ages of five and 14 in the new national curriculum, which comes into force in all maintained schools from September. The revised programmes of study for music have an increased focus on the need for activities to be undertaken musically, with reference to all children learning to play a musical instrument. The new, slimmed-down curriculum provides greater freedoms for teachers to use their creativity and professional judgment in how they teach to meet the needs of the pupils in their class. At key stage 4, the arts are one of four entitlement areas within the national curriculum. Maintained schools must provide all pupils with access to at least one course in the arts entitlement area, which includes music, art and design, dance, drama and media arts.
The Equality Act places a duty on all schools to support disabled children and young people. It includes making reasonable adjustments to prevent them suffering discrimination and supplying additional aids and services. Schools must have also accessibility plans which set out how they will improve access to the curriculum, improve the school’s buildings and environment to enable disabled pupils to take better advantage of the school and improve the availability of accessible information. This includes academies and free schools. Additionally, to make sure that all teachers know how to adapt teaching to respond to their pupils’ needs, part 5 of the teachers’ standards requires teachers to,
“have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn, and how best to overcome these”.
To support and encourage all children to experience excellent music education, the Government have set up 123 new music education hubs. Since August 2012, these hubs have been working to drive up the quality and consistency of music education across the country, with an emphasis on forging new partnerships. Hubs are required to develop four core roles, which include ensuring that every child aged five to 18 has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument through whole-class ensemble teaching and providing opportunities for them to play in ensembles and perform from an early stage. They are also expected to ensure that clear progression routes are available and affordable to all young people, and to develop a singing strategy so that every pupil can sing regularly in a choir or other vocal ensembles in their area. In addition, hubs may provide other services, such as professional development for teachers.
In answer to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, about participation, I am pleased to say that 5% of pupils who participated in instrumental ensembles or choirs in 2012-13 had a statement of special educational needs, compared to 2.8% nationally.
There are some excellent examples of hubs working with children who have disabilities. Telford music education hub offers a bespoke version of its whole-class ensemble tuition programme for special schools. Camden hub integrates pupils from local special schools into the Camden music festival and Surrey music hub, with partner Rhythmix, has run a sound and motion lab looking at how digital technologies can aid music-making for children with movement impairment at the Orpheus residential centre for children with disabilities. In Telford, the hub’s Kreative Kidz programme offers specialist out-of-school arts and music sessions for young people with severe physical needs, under the short breaks duty introduced to local authorities in April 2011. The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent hub’s strategic partner, Make Some Noise, runs training and mentoring programmes for musicians and teachers wishing to improve their skill set and confidence in delivering music activities for children with SEN and disabilities, through the use of assisted music technology specialists and equipment. Bradford music education hub offered training events for teachers of children with SEN and disabilities between November and March last year, covering topics such as song-writing, composition and developing choirs.
As my noble friend Lord German mentioned, schools are also demonstrating innovative practice in this area. At Great Oaks, a special needs school in Southampton, all students learn to use mobile devices to make music. In October 2013, the school held a mobile device concert for students to perform arrangements of popular music songs independently in iPad bands. Bradford music has also established a singing choir at Hanson secondary school, drawing on specialist expertise and advice from Music and the Deaf, a unique charity based in Huddersfield that helps people suffering hearing loss to enjoy music. In Ealing, a partnership on music and autism with the Orchestra of St John’s led to securing funding to develop a series of workshops and performances, led by members of the orchestra, in all the borough’s specials schools.
In response to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, I am delighted to say that the Government appreciate the benefits of the music and this type of work. I am very happy to make that statement. The Department for Education will look to publicise work of this type, whether it is led by music hubs, charities or schools, to help to give due recognition to these extremely worthwhile projects, and it will encourage other organisations to emulate this good practice in their work.
I am grateful for the comments from the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, and my noble friends Lord Jenkin and Lord German about the announcement on 22 July that our music budget will increase by £18 million in 2015-16, with most of this money going to the hubs. This will bring the total that this Government are spending on music education for the period between 2012 and 2016 to more than £390 million.
Other programmes include In Harmony, which we sponsor alongside Arts Council England and others. In Harmony is transforming the lives of children through community-based orchestras for music-making in six areas of exceptional deprivation. Again, we are aware of excellent inclusion practices. For example, in a participating Nottingham school, a child with muscular dystrophy has had a half-size guitar adapted so that it can be tuned to the correct pitch, enabling her to carry out pizzicato alongside her classmates. In Newcastle, In Harmony has helped a child with a very severe speech disability to excel on bassoon. He has performed solo at Newcastle’s Literary & Philosophical Society and is now attending the Sage Gateshead centre for advanced training.
Our funding for Music for Youth is also enabling children with disabilities to attend and perform at regional and national festivals at world-class venues. Sixteen children and young people with additional needs from Beacon Hill Academy in Essex, a specialist college for sensory and physical needs, performed in a mass ensemble showcase performance at the Royal Albert Hall for the Schools Prom in 2013. This was part of an exclusive music project in Essex, delivered by Music for Youth in partnership with three music education hubs.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, for drawing our attention to the achievements of one-handed musicians and the extraordinary and pioneering work of the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust. The Government have been clear that all pupils, whatever their individual needs, should benefit from an education in music, and through our work with the Arts Council and others we will continue to make sure that providing opportunities with SEN disabilities is essential to the work.
I enjoyed the comments of my noble friend Lord Jenkin about Douglas Fox and his wonderful work. I also thank him for highlighting the commendable work of Jessie’s Fund in helping seriously ill and disabled children through the therapeutic use of music. Through its Soundtracks programme it is running creative workshops in more than 80 schools for children with special needs. It is doing excellent work in supporting children to take part in the musical process.
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord German for his comments about the benefits of music as therapy and its ability to break down barriers. This is evident in the work of programmes funded by the department. In Cambridgeshire, there is an established music therapy programme providing clinical interventions, while Telford and Wrekin’s In Harmony programme has a specialist nurture group.
I noted comments about establishing an international paramusic competition, and I will discuss it with DCMS, as it seems like a very good idea. Technology is also crucial. I have already pointed to the innovative work with mobile devices at Great Oaks School in Southampton.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, emphasised the importance of making sure that the money we have provided is well spent and reaches students with disabilities and SEN. We have been working with the Arts Council to support and challenge hubs. We have introduced a new requirement for hubs to develop school music education plans. They must clearly demonstrate how they are connecting with all the schools in their area and how they are planning to provide targeted support to schools where necessary. We have also set up a new hubs advisory group, which is providing strategic advice to the DfE on the effectiveness of hub networks. Members are drawn from organisations with an interest in the performance of hubs, including representatives from schools, music hubs, Ofsted and other music stakeholders. There is an SEN teacher on the hubs advisory group.
The Arts Council also analyses the data from hubs to ensure that children and young people with SEN and disabilities are engaged. Several hubs are currently undertaking specific research and activity with children and young people with SEN, and we will share this across the network as appropriate. The Arts Council runs a flagship Artsmark programme to enable schools and other organisations to evaluate, strengthen and celebrate their arts and cultural provision. Artsmark is nationally recognised as demonstrating excellence in arts and cultural provision, and any school, college or young justice organisation can apply. It is open to SEN schools. A specialist leaders in cultural education course has been developed by one of ACE’s bridge organisations and this is open to special schools.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, asked about the national plan for music education’s monitoring board and whether this will continue. It continues to meet termly as the cultural education board, chaired by Ministers from DfE and DCMS, and Darren Henley. I will ask my officials to investigate the use of technology in music GCSEs and will write to the noble Lord on that issue.
I am very grateful to my noble friend Lady Nicholson who spoke so powerfully about the power of music for deaf children. She highlighted the excellent Mary Hare School for the deaf. I was very impressed to hear about the school and its arrangements in Romania. Schools with real expertise can make significant contributions by sharing their knowledge internationally. I would be very pleased to discuss this with my noble friend. I should be grateful if she could keep me informed and would be delighted to meet representatives from Romania when they are here.
The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, made the point that top-performing schools in music are often independent schools. Sadly, that is true. As we all know, the top-performing schools in this country absolutely, and in many areas, are disproportionately represented in the independent sector, which is why this Government are so determined to increase the performance of the state education sector.
I believe that the policies and programmes that I have described demonstrate our desire to ensure that no child is excluded from receiving a high-quality music education due to a physical or other physical disability. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that the impact of our programmes on disabled young people is evident from the examples that I have given throughout the country.
My Lords, that concludes business in Grand Committee this afternoon. The Committee stands adjourned and I take this opportunity to wish all noble Lords and others a very pleasant recess.
Committee adjourned at 2.38 pm.