"The national music plan" and the taming of English music education

Spruce, Gary (2013). "The national music plan" and the taming of English music education. Arts Education Policy Review, 114(3) pp. 112–118.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10632913.2013.803412


In late 2011, the Department for Education in England published ‘The importance of music: A national plan for music education.’ (DfE/DCMS 2011b).. Ostensibly, its purpose is to carry forward in a more coherent and equitable manner the work hitherto carried out by music services-locally-based, publicly funded organisations that provide instrumental lessons to schools within their area. However the plan goes much further, setting out a wide-ranging policy vision for music education in England for the next eight years; a policy vision which is arguably at odds with the values and beliefs that have underpinned music education in England over the last thirty years. In this article I intend to explore the language and rhetoric of the plan and the musical values that it enshrines. I will argue that, whilst drawing superficially on the language of inclusivity, the NMP has the potential to alienate many young people from formal music education and to be used as the means of sustaining social and educational inequalities.

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