As schools return in Wales, they will begin implementing the new Music in Schools programme, part of the National Plan for Music Education that was announced in May. A key element of the plan is the establishment of a National Music Service. 
 
MWC’s Artistic Director, Maria Thomas, gives her opinion on the plan. 
 

What’s in the plan? 

The plan breaks down into 5 key areas, with the government committing to: 
 
Establish a National Music Service 
Develop a Music in Schools Programme 
Develop a Making music with others programme 
Develop a national instrument, resource and equipment library 
Provide professional learning support 
 
Wales’ National Plan for Music Education focusses on partnerships, with the National Music Service due to work with local music services and wider community music partners. 
 
The National Music Service has its origins in the Music Services Feasibility Study, which was published in January 2020. Key to the study was a recommendation that a National Plan could give more coherence and consistency as well as driving improvements. Rather than being overly prescriptive, it was felt that the plan should provide a reference framework to help different stakeholders – such as schools and music services – to identify the most appropriate solutions for the individual elements of music education provision across Wales. 
 
The report considered 5 options
 
Maintaining the status quo; 
Allowing the market to determine provision; 
A strong national coordinating body run by providers; 
A regional service with a national coordinating body; and 
A national service. 
 
The first two options were discounted on the basis that – although they would be cheaper and easier to implement – they were unlikely to deliver improvements or provide a cohesive approach across Wales. The new plan, and the National Music Service, take forward the report’s fifth and final option. 

About the National Music Service 

The National Music Service will have a broad remit. It will work with existing music services to build on current provision and review terms and conditions for local authorities’ music services contracts. It will work with umbrella organisations such as Music Mark to ensure access to instruments, equipment and repairers. It will also oversee Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives and an evaluation framework to monitor whether the plan is achieving its objectives. 
 
The National Music Service will also direct Programmes of Work that will take children from their first experiences with music in schools, through to music for lifelong learning and career pathways. 

Is the National Plan for Music Education achievable? 

The ambitions for the National Plan for Music Education are exciting. The plan seems to consider the needs of schools in terms of professional learning and terms and conditions for instrumental staff. The investment in instruments and consideration of the need for maintenance and repair is also key. 
 
Importantly, funding for Music Education will treble as part of the initiative. Finance is key for schools to be able to provide quality music education, so it’s especially encouraging to see that the plan takes this into account. 

How we can help 

If your school is thinking about how to implement the plan for your students, the Music Workshop Company has resources to help you: 
 
For free resources, head over to our top tips page and our other blog posts, or have a look at our playlists for inspiration. 
Our workshops cover a range of skills that you may want to help your students develop - from ensemble playing (e.g. African Drumming and Samba), to Composition, Singing, and wider musical skills such as listening and critiquing. 
We strive to ensure our workshops offer good value for money. Many of our primary school workshops can be designed to work with 7 classes in a day, meaning the cost can be under £2.50 per child (based on an average of 30 children in a class). For secondary schools, we can design our workshops to work with 5 classes in a day, bringing the cost down to less than £3.50 per participant. 
We also offer INSET / Twilight sessions for teachers, whether for staff at one school or for teachers across multiple schools. These sessions will help music specialists develop their skills, while non-specialists will develop their confidence. Get in touch for more information on our CPD offering. 
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