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UK Music warns A-level figures reveal “deepening crisis” facing music teaching and UK’s world-leading orchestras



UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher warned of a “deepening crisis” facing A-level music after the latest results today (Thursday) revealed a 5.8 per cent drop in the number of pupils taking the subject in England.

The new figures from examinations regulator OFQUAL reveal the number of students taking A-level music fell from 5,440 in 2018 to 5,125 this year. The figure is a sharp 5.8 per cent fall on the number who took A-level music in 2018 and is almost six times higher than the 1 per cent decrease in the overall number of students taking A-levels in 2019.

The fall is a significant blow to efforts to continue to generate our world-leading array professional musicians and teachers and seriously threatens the music industry’s talent pipeline. It also jeopardises the economic success story of the UK music industry which contributes £4.5 billion a year to the UK economy.

The new figures reveal the size of the drop in the number of students taking music A-level has almost doubled since last year to 5.8 per cent. A total of 5,440 students took A-level music in 2018 - a 3 per cent fall on the 5,610 students who took the subject in 2017 (see table under notes to editors).

Over the past five years, the number of people studying A-level music has declined sharply by an alarming 30 per cent from 7,355 in 2014 to 5,125 in 2019, while the total number of people studying A-levels dropped by only 4 per cent over the same period.

Commenting, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said:
“Congratulations to everyone on their A-level music results.

“However, this year’s A-level entry numbers reveal a deepening crisis facing music in education that needs urgent action from the Government.

 “There is yet again a worrying drop in the number of people studying music to A-level, which seriously jeopardises the talent pipeline on which our industry relies.

 “It is particularly bad news for our efforts to continue to produce highly skilled and talented professionals who often go on to teach music or play in one of the UK’s world-leading orchestras.

 “Children from all backgrounds should have access to the music. There is also strong evidence to suggest that young people who are engaged in their education through music fare better at maths and English.

 "There is a vital economic reason to ensure music is available in all schools, especially as the creative industries contribute more than £100 billion to our economy. The UK music industry alone generates £4.5 billion towards the UK economy.”

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