To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to expand the provision of communications technology and broadband so that children will have access to online music education regardless of their socio-economic background or special educational needs.
11 August 2020
The arts form a vital part of children and young people’s education, and access to these important areas should not just be the preserve of the elite. Music is compulsory in all maintained schools from the age of 5 to 14, and academies are also required to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, which Ofsted consider in their inspections.
The department has invested nearly £500 million of funding from 2016-20 in a diverse portfolio of music and arts education programmes, and in January, we announced a further £80 million investment in Music Education Hubs for 2020-21 to ensure all children, whatever their background, have access to a high-quality music education.
The department is committed to the continuation of high-quality education for all pupils during this difficult time and it is supporting schools and parents through a number of initiatives. On 2 July 2020, the department published detailed guidance to support the full opening of schools from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance made it clear we expect all schools to teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects from the start of the autumn term – including art and music. Furthermore, detailed guidance on music provision will be published shortly.
Resources may also be found through subject associations and professional bodies, such as BESA’s LendEd website and the EdTech Impact website for example, which include varied resources that teachers already use and rate within the websites. These resources have not been verified by the department’s educational experts, but we are signposting to them because they also cover other areas of the curriculum that are not covered in our list.
The department has announced £4.34 million of funding for the Oak National Academy for the 2020-21 academic year to provide online video lessons covering a variety of subjects, including music. The purpose of this funding is to enable Oak to provide support to schools in developing the ability to switch from classroom teaching to remote provision immediately in case of local lockdowns or self-isolation.
To help children to access education, including music, at home, we have provided laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in Year 10, and to those receiving support from a social worker, including pre-school children, and care leavers. As of 30 June, over 200,000 laptops and tablets and over 47,000 4G wireless routers had been delivered or dispatched to local authorities and academy trusts.
Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10, do not have internet connections, we have provided 4G wireless routers to them so that they can learn at home. In partnership with BT, the department has also launched a service to provide children and young people free access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots. 10,000 families are initially able to access the scheme. This offer is currently being piloted and will be rolled out across England in the coming months. We are currently working with BT to expand this offer to allow more children to access the internet through their network of BT Wi-Fi hotspots.
We are also working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families. For families who rely on a mobile internet connection, mobile network operators are working to provide temporary access to free additional data offering them more flexibility to access the resources that they need the most.