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Stormzy should be taught in schools instead of Mozart to prevent exclusions, charity urges

Stormzy should be taught in schools instead of Mozart to prevent pupils from being excluded, a charity study said. Youth Music, a national charity endorsed by the musician and presenter Myleene Klass, is calling for an “urgent transformation” of the music curriculum.

It said that schools need to “shake up” the way music is taught and exchange classical music for grime, hip-hop and electro, with help from music industries.

Last month The Telegraph reported that school exclusions for drugs and alcohol were at a ten-year high, with “county lines” to blame for recruiting youngsters to ferry drugs around the country.

Official data showed that this amounted to a 57 per cent rise, from 360 children in 2006/7 to 565 children in 2016/7.

The Youth Music research comes following a major four-year research programme, entitled Exchanging Notes, which found that young people at risk of exclusion at the start of the programme maintained high levels of attendance throughout.

The study involved 10 partnerships between music organisations and schools nationwide and involved 974 young people.

Youth Music invests in music-making projects which help young people’s personal, social and musical development.

Published during the charity's 20th anniversary year, the research was produced in collaboration with Birmingham City University and funded by the National Lottery via Arts Council England.

The charity is now urging the Department for Education (DfE) to adopt a new model of music in schools that reflects the diverse musical interests of young people today.

It said a number of changes are urgently needed to transform musical education in schools.

These include the Government issuing an "unequivocal" message about value of music, schools ensuring music is for everyone, and partners collaborating on designing an inclusive curriculum.

A DfE spokeswoman said: "We want all pupils to have the opportunity to study music at school - that's why it is compulsory in the national curriculum from the age of five up to 14.

"We are currently working with music groups and practitioners to refresh the national plan for music education and develop a high-quality model music curriculum."

Matt Griffiths, its chief executive, said: "We've seen the benefits of students exchanging Mozart for Stormzy as part of a re-imagined music curriculum."

“Evidence shows that music-making is a strong contributor to young people’s personal and social development. But despite school being the one place where everyone should be able to access music, we’ve consistently heard how it doesn’t reflect their existing musical lives and passions. And their access is being restricted because school music departments are disappearing by the day. 

Researchers discovered that young people at risk of exclusion at the outset of the programme maintained high levels of attendance of 95 per cent throughout the programme. It also helped some young people to re-enter mainstream education after having been excluded.

Furthermore, throughout the four years, there was an increase in participants performing above expectation in Maths (from 14 per cent up to 21 per cent) and English (from 15 per cent up to 28 per cent).

In a letter addressed to the schools minister Nick Gibb seen by The Telegraph Mr Griffiths urged him to consider the findings “as you put together a model music curriculum”.

“We urge the Government, OFSTED, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to collaboratively develop an action plan to ensure a sustainable, innovative and diverse music curriculum in schools,” he said.

“School success measures must go beyond their current, singular focus on attainment to include, equally, outcomes for young people especially for their social and emotional wellbeing."

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