Evidence Meeting 1: Building the Future Workforce (the role of music in cognitive development)

A series of evidence meetings conducted at the House of Lords examining the full value of music to UK society.

Questions to be addressed in this meeting:

  1. Does the UK government need to update its approach to education and ensure that music is embedded in the delivery and enjoyment of learning (i.e. using music as a vehicle to also deliver other subjects) in school environments? E.g. properly embedding and valuing music in a STEAM approach instead of a STEM approach. Valuing music’s ability to increase enjoyment and therefore engagement in learning environments.

  2. Do UK funding systems need to be updated to ensure that the contemporary music styles that match the mass tastes of young people receive adequate funding? For example, according to a recent UK Music report only 8% of Arts Council England music funding will be awarded to projects that fall under the category of 'popular music' in the next 5 years, whilst 'classical and opera' projects will receive 85% of that funding.

  3. Does popular music deliver greater learning results than some other art forms due to its immediacy and resonance with the mass cultural tastes of today’s youth population? (For example, sport scientists use the music that matches the athlete's taste in order to produce immediate behavioural effects such as anxiety control, confidence, motivation and focus)


Expert Witnesses


Naveed Idrees, Headmaster, and Jimmy Rotheram, Music Teacher, Feversham Primary Academy, Bradford

"The proven impact of curricular and extra-curricular music on learning and skills development"

Feversham Primary Academy was listed as a failing school but six years on, the school inspectors rate the school very differently. According to Ofsted performance tables, it’s in the top 10% of schools in England when it comes to progressing childrens' learning in core subjects like maths and English. For the eldest pupils at the school who have come through the system, their progress in reading and maths places them in the top 2% and 1% respectively in England. Navreed Idrees, headmaster, states that his increasing use of music (pupils now receive 3-8 hours per week of music engagement) is the reason for this turnaround. He believes music is the key to his school's success and wants others to take notice. He explains “there is pressure on schools to avoid putting resources into music and arts in case it negatively affects exam results in core subjects. What I can say to headteachers is that music and arts are the bedrock of educational success. Your results will go up, not down."

Recent BBC news report about this school.

For the past 20 years Young Voices has been staging the largest schools concerts in the world. Over 2 million primary school pupils in the UK have participated in a Young Voices concert. 150,000 children will participate in 2019, singing alongside former Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley at sold out concerts in UK arenas. Performing hit songs from past and present that their parents (and in some cases grandparents) also know and love. According to a recent Nielsen survey 70% of parents believe that participation in the Young Voices programme improved their child’s confidence. Even 4 years after their involvement 22% of parents considered their participation to still be a contributing factor in their child performing better at school. 3,500 UK primary schools participate in the Young Voices programme each year. Young Voices CEO, Ben Lewis, believes that aligning music education experiences more closely with their music tastes and the music they hear at home is the key to engaging and inspiring the new generation of pupils. Existing curriculums are not enabling teachers to achieve this and fully exploit the potential of music in learning environments.

More about Young Voices.

Ben Lewis, CEO Young Voices Concerts

"The impact of popular music choirs and mass concerts on primary school pupils"

Professor Birgitte Andersen, CEO Big Innovation Centre / Secretariat APPG Artificial Intelligence

"Filling the creativity skills gap in the future AI led workplace"

It has become evident that there is a skills gap already emerging in the UK. This has been voiced by several leading AI specialists who are emphasising the importance of creativity, communication and leadership skills in the current and future technology led workforce. These are all skills that are very effectively developed through music engagement during youth and in adulthood. Meanwhile, music has been stripped from the UK education curriculum in favour of STEM subjects in recent years. Research led by the Big Innovation Centre and the APPG AI highlights the importance of embedding a STEAM approach into curriculums to nurture a workforce that is fit for purpose to position the UK as a leading global economy. Birgitte was an advisor to the music industry on P2P file sharing and IP rights prior to establishing the Big Innovation Centre.

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