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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 March, 2004, 14:52 GMT
Music 'vital' to school standards
By Justin Parkinson
BBC News Online education staff

David Miliband and young musicians
Minister of sound: drum-playing children join the Mili-band
Music teaching is "central" to improving educational achievement, the School Standards Minister, David Miliband, has said.

Announcing a 1.5m funding increase for music services in England, he said the subject helped "self-confidence and motivation" among pupils.

Teaching unions have criticised the primary school curriculum for too much focus on literacy and numeracy.

Mr Miliband said the money would help to create "life-long enthusiasms".

'Higher standards'

It will mean 10,000 for each of England's 150 local education authorities (LEAs).

Speaking at Music for Life, a children's festival at the Barbican in London, Mr Miliband said: "Creativity spurs higher standards: creativity in teaching, creativity in the curriculum, creativity in staffing."

Thirteen LEAs have participated in pilot schemes which involve professional musicians giving lessons to children aged up to 11.

Paul Barnes, head teacher of Cheetham Community School, Manchester
It gives children the opportunity to work together as a group and increases their interest and self-esteem
Paul Barnes, head teacher

All classes have been offered instrument tuition.

In some areas the take-up rate among pupils had been between 70% and 100%, the Department for Education and Skills said.

Cheetham Community School, an ethnically diverse primary in Manchester, took part in the pilot.

The head teacher, Paul Barnes, said: "Music does lots of things for children.

"It gives children the opportunity to work together as a group and increases their interest and self-esteem.

"Music at school also gives them the chance to try instruments they haven't been used to, improving their cultural awareness."

A study for the National Union of Teachers in 2002 found English and maths lessons were taking up half the teaching week in primary schools. Art got 65 minutes and music 45.

The NUT claims children are suffering psychologically from the pressure to achieve test targets and is calling for more diversity.

David Bell, Chief Inspector of Schools for England, told an audience of teachers at the Barbican on Wednesday: "Standards are higher where successful new partnerships have been formed between school-based staff, Music Service tutors and professional musicians.

"The most successful trial tuition programmes have also included opportunities for vocal work and improvisation, and for pupils to compose their own pieces."

Guidance on improving music teaching will be sent to all primary schools in England later this month.

The dawn of creativity?
24 Jun 03  |  Education
Complaints grow over school tests
21 Feb 03  |  Education

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