Schools across the nation have been suffering from funding issues with headteachers being forced to cut down the length of school days, teaching staff and abolishing creative subjects such as the Arts and Music. At the same time, access to music in independent schools has risen by 7%.
Head of Music at Bethany School, Jonny Brison, is determined for Music to remain a key subject for creative and performing arts pupils, detailing the benefits and how the impact of music changed his life forever.
When keeping up to date with current affairs related to the education of our country in today’s society, there is a common theme that seems to be even more apparent in recent years. I am, of course, talking about the cuts being made to creative subjects across countless schools, with a particular focus on Music. Being a Teacher of Music myself, I can’t help but feel disheartened and frustrated that more schools seem to be following this same trend.
It is not difficult to understand the rationale behind deciding to axe or put less emphasis on subjects such as Music. Logistically from a managerial perspective, Music, along with other creative subjects, are quite understandably “expensive subjects”. With the government putting financial pressure on the education sector, schools are clearly feeling this which unfortunately puts them in the position where they have to consider which subjects are most cost-effective.
This, along with pressures to improve attainment in core subjects such as English and Maths, usually leads to many schools having to make the difficult decision that Music is no longer something they can offer or promote to young people.
Ignoring my biased point of view, sometimes you can’t help but question why certain schools just don’t see the true value that creative subjects have in a young person’s development and education. If you move past the obvious fact that being able to play a musical instrument is an invaluable skill to have, the thing that I feel truly passionate about when teaching my subject is just how important it is to the development of a young person’s ability to communicate with others, to problem-solve and work under pressure, as well as various other key skills such as self-discipline and empathy for others.
All of these skills are more than desirable by any employer, and sometimes they can only truly master these skills in a setting which doesn’t have them sat behind a desk with a pen in their hand. The very fact that I became a musician at an early age has given me opportunities in life that have led me to where I am today. There is no possible way I could have had the confidence to stand up in a classroom and deliver the lessons I do every single day had it not been for the creative part of my education growing up.
A young person’s education is vital to their ability to cope and function as an adult, and it is our responsibility as educators to ensure this education is well-balanced and, more importantly, allows them to have experiences that will prepare them for the future. I am fortunate enough to work for a school with a management team that values the arts and understands the importance of everything I have mentioned above. As a result of this, our uptake at Key Stage 4 and 5 is on the increase. However, this raises the question of, “why doesn’t every school have the same opinion?”.
Unfortunately, this is not something that cannot be answered in a few simple words, but I feel responsible as the Head of Music to show others just how important it is to be part of a school community where Music and other creative subjects are valued, and the overall impact that can have on the growth and development of a young person. It is a journey that I have undertaken which is challenging and when you see the impact it has on our pupils, it’s something that I wouldn’t change for the world.