8.10 Current debates and reforms
Musical Education in Wales
In line with plans outlined in Light Springs through the Dark (Welsh Government, 2016), the creation of a National Endowment for Music was announced in February 2017. However, the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee concluded that a radical new approach is needed to save the musical education sector from a crisis caused by continuing funding cuts and moves to simply paper over the cracks. A report published in 2018 by the Committee contains 16 recommendations for the future on musical education in Wales. One of the main recommendations is:
The Welsh Government should transfer responsibility for the delivery of music services to an arms-length, national body with a distinct regional delivery mechanism and footprint. The national body should be core funded by the Welsh Government and should be made responsible for ensuring that both pupils and staff working within the music education sector, regardless of their location or social background, are afforded equitable opportunities. The Welsh Government should ensure the responsible body is provided with any additional funding necessary in order to maintain equality of access on an all Wales level.
In January 2020, a Music Services Feasibility Study report was published by the Welsh Government following on from the recommendations of the 2018 report. This report. The brief for this feasibility study was concerned with identifying and assessing options for the future delivery of Music Services in Wales. It was to consider existing methods of delivery of education services across Wales, identify best practice, consider alternative models in line with the needs and demands for such services, and consider the feasibility of the options available. A particular focus rested upon considering whether or not responsibility for delivery should be transferred to a single national ‘arm’s-length’ body, presenting options in respect of what form this body should take and considering whether or not a National Plan for Music Education should be prepared.
Developing a National Plan for Music Education that is endorsed by key stakeholders is an important first step in ensuring that national consistency and coherence can be achieved. It will therefore be important to initially test the options as put forth in this report with all key stakeholders
The following are some conclusions from the report:
- The development of a National Plan for Music Education should be considered.
- The Welsh Government should consider whether a new organisation is required to develop and deliver the plan. The suggested options should be tested with strategic stakeholders and providers of Music Education Services.
- Schools are the key decision makers in how music education is delivered. Further research should be considered to examine how they make this decision and what factors they consider.
- Sustainability of the music tutor workforce is a cause for concern. Further work should be considered to gain the views of music tutors regarding their terms and conditions.
Curriculum for Wales 2022
The Curriculum for Wales 2022 is currently being developed to reform Welsh education and take forward recommendations set out in Successful Futures: Independent Review of Curriculum and Assessment Arrangements in Wales. Within this, the need for learners to be rooted in their own cultures is recognised:
Curriculum for Wales 2022 guidance recognises that learners should have the opportunity to develop their identity through exploring questions of culture, language and belonging in their locality and in Wales. It should provide them with an understanding of the diverse histories, cultures, values and heritage of modern Wales, and the contribution they can make to their communities. The new curriculum should provide learners with the means by which to imagine both Wales’ future and their own roles in its unfolding story.
Curriculum for Wales 2022 guidance was made available in January 2020 for rollout in September 2022 for all year groups in primary school and Year 7 in secondary schools. The curriculum will roll out to Year 8 in September 2023 and year on year until it is introduced to Year 11 in 2026.
Funding for the arts and culture sector was made available in 2020 by the Welsh government as a response to the impact of COVID-19. In November 2020, following high demand for funding support across the arts and cultural sectors, a further £10.7 million was announced to support organisations and individuals during the pandemic, taking the total funding package available through the Cultural Recovery Fund to £63.7 million. The funding will be used to open a third phase of the successful Freelancer Fund which will see a further £3.5 million being made available nationwide across all local authority areas to freelancers in the creative sector.
This is in addition to an £18 million portfolio package provided in April, which was delivered by Welsh Government, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Wales and Sport Wales.
In March 2020, new research by the Welsh government explored the relationship between wellbeing and attendance and participation in culture, heritage and the arts in Wales. The findings of this report add to the evidence that access to arts, culture and heritage is highly dependent on intersecting socio-economic factors such as: tenure, employment, health and disability. This research also reflects prior evidence that people living in poverty have far poorer well-being.