What steps she is taking with the Secretary of State for Education to increase the uptake of music among children.
In June 2022, we published the new national plan for music education, which aims to level up music opportunities for all children and young people regardless of circumstance, needs or geography. Since publication, we have worked with the Department for Education to progress delivery of the music hub investment programme and the music progression fund.
I recently welcomed Bath young carers from the Bath Philharmonia to perform music in Parliament, and it was a wonderful evening. Sadly, too few young people have the opportunity to learn an instrument, or to perform or enjoy music, and the number of GCSE music entrants has fallen by 12.5%. The Minister mentioned the new national plan for music education. Will he update us on how many schools have implemented that plan, and will we get regular updates about any increase in the number of GCSE music entrants?
I am sorry that I was unable to hear the visiting group from the hon. Lady’s constituency, but I am delighted that it came. As I have said, we are investing £25 million in the provision of musical instruments through music hubs. I can tell her that the proportion of pupils studying for a music qualification at key stage 4 over the past years has remained stable at about 7% to 8%.
I have to say that the Bath young carers played wonderfully, and I really enjoyed listening to them.
Ofsted recently stated that there remains a
“divide between children and young people whose families can afford to pay for music tuition and those who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds.”
I share the concern just expressed about the impact this is having. The money promised for musical instruments in June 2022, which the Minister has just mentioned, has still not been distributed to schools, and it now sounds as though that money is not going to arrive until autumn 2024. Will that delay not just mean that more children are not able to learn to play an instrument? What action can the Minister take to speed it up?
I can tell the hon. Lady that the Government remain committed to investment through the music hub investment programme, and I am happy to give her a specific answer to the question she raises about the allocation of that money in writing. The Government are working very closely with the DFE on this, and we also look forward to producing a cultural education plan in early 2024.