To what extent is Music Education a potential vehicle for Development Education? (2020) - © J Hawkins 2020

1. Introduction

I intend to explore the potential for development education through music education focused through the lens of the UK’s National Plan for Music Education (NPM), (DfE, 2011a). Initially, I will reconnoitre the background of the NPM before exploring and comparing the principles of development education and effective music education. These principles will then form the foundation for analysing the extent of which music education, and principally the NPM, is a potential vehicle for development education.

            1a. What is the UK’s National Plan for Music Education (NPM)?

The UK’s National Plan for Music Education (NPM) or “The Importance of Music” (DfE, 2011a : 1) was, and still is, considered pivotal for the UK’s music education initiatives. This programme was the first nationally centralised plan which outlined a vision and relatable practicalities to reformulate music education provisions, funding and workforce throughout the UK (DfE, 2011a).

After a decade of comparative prosperity (Spruce, 2013) the ‘Cameron-Clegg’ administration, the first post-war coalition, and notably a ‘new form of politics’ (Heppell, 2015 : 4) commissioned Darren Henley - then managing director of Classic FM (DfE, 2011b; Spruce, 2013) - to independently review music education within the UK (DfE, 2011a). The review, published in 2011 (DfE, 2011a; DfE, 2011b) is colloquially referred to as ‘The Henley Review’ (Spruce, 2013) and culminated in thirty-six recommendations for improvements to music education within the UK (DfE, 2011a). The ‘Henley Review’ (Spruce, 2013) formed ‘The Importance of Music: A National Plan for Music’ - (NMP), DfE (2011a). This ‘White Paper’ delineates a vision for music education, a “national formula for music education funding” (DfE, 2011c : 2) and “high quality [centralised] music provision” (DfE,2011a : 4). The review essentially redistributed national music education resources e.g. financial, material and professional (DfE, 2011a) through the creation of “new Music Education Hubs” (DfE, 2011a : 3). The NPM centralised and channelled resources whilst encouraging and stimulating organisational partnerships e.g. regional and national arts organisations and local authorities etc. (DfE, 2011a). This revamp principally “facilitate[d] access and progression” to music education (Hallam & Hanke, 2004 : 14). Access and progression were considered core pathways in need of development pre-NPM (DfE, 2011b). The primary prerequisite for funding music education based organisational collaboration under ‘Music Hub’ conglomerates was accessibility by all spectrums of society (Luce, 2011). Programmes had to be delivered, or at minimum, be accessible to every child within a local authority (DfE, 2011a).

Lobbying funding bodies initially praised the NPM simply due to funding being pigeonholed for music education (Spruce, 2013). However, the NPM instilled a monopolisation of governmental power and liquidation of national music education assets (Spruce, 2013). Additionally, the radical reformulating agendas of the NPM were positioned alongside a tide of educational controversy. This included the attempted introduction of the EBacc (DfE, 2009; Long & Danechi, 2019), academisation of schools (Shah, 2018; DfE, 2019; Miller, 2011;) and wide-spread effects of ‘new’ (Heppell, 2015) political coalition (Spruce, 2013).

A ‘New National Plan’ for Music is currently in consultation and is due to be published in Autumn 2020 (DfE, 2020). This upcoming ‘White Paper’ is intended to “level up opportunities for children […] [to] develop a lifelong love of music” (DfE, 2020 : 1). This casts the current NPM, particularly from an access standpoint, in a more negative sphere. This decennial policy update sparked my interest to explore the potential for development education through music education for my penultimate Masters assignment. Additionally, the recommendations I make within the conclusion of this essay are aimed at this decennial update. For the context of this essay, the NPM is not considered a development education programme rather a general education programme.

2. What are the principles of DE?

Development education is highly contested terminology (Bourne, 2014) and subject to pluralistic perspective and practices (Bourne, 2014). To illustrate this, I have provided two juxtaposing development education interpretations below:

Development education can potentially raise awareness of global poverty and the ‘Global South’ (Bourne, 2014; Skinner, Blum and Bourne, 2013) e.g. Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) advertising campaigns educating the ‘Global North’ (Skinner et al., 2013 : 1). In this context, development education is NGO-based citizen education delineating the sources and effects of global issues (Bourne, 2014 : 32). Development education, in this setting, aims to stimulate individual attitudinal change to promote positive action (Bourne, 2014 : 32).

Development education can also be considered a “framework for broader learning” (Bourne, 2014 : 28); a “critical pedagogy” (Skinner et al., 2013 : 1) that is transformative for an individual’s global outlook (Bourne, 2014; Blum & Bourne, 2013). Importantly, Bourne (2014) advocates the idea development education is pedagogical, and according to Skinner et al., (2013 : 1) in essence invokes “community driven change” through inspiring individuals (Skinner et al., 2013). This pedagogical approach to development education is not just consigned for the Global South but encompasses all individuals (Bourne, 2014).

Throughout European development education literature, the prevalence of “multi-stakeholder” (Bourne, 2014 : 29) involvement is encouraged (Bourne, 2014). This endorses development education initiatives and distributes accountability across numerous organisational bodies (Bourne, 2014 : 29). For instance, development education initiatives could transverse a diversity of organisation bodies including NGOs, trade union and educational establishments (Bourne, 2014) - hence effective development education having “multi-stakeholder” (Bourne, 2014 : 29) involvement. This potentially intensifies a development education programme’s impact through recruiting a tapestry of organisational skill sets e.g. the skill set(s) of a University and/or frontline workers aiding NGOs. Furthermore, (Bourne, 2014 : 29) stipulates a “rich variety of voice and perspectives” augments development education initiatives and both multi-cultural/inter-cultural appreciation and understanding. 

Intertwined within Bourne’s (2014) ‘framework’ are core, and arguably more-generalised, pedagogical and skills-based tactics (Bourne, 2014). This includes the promotion of critical thinking and participatory but learner-centred educational settings (Skinner et al., 2013). Fundamentally, this refocused development education on “dialogue and experience” (Bourne, 2014 : 34). This encourages learners to take responsibility for their own development to understand the implications and effects of their wider learning (Bourne, 2014). Whilst these core elements do not automatically constitute development education e.g. participatory educational models, they contribute to the crucible of ‘transformative learning’, (Bourne, 2014; Skinner et al., 2013). Transformative learning affects core behavioural changes (Bourne, 2014) leading to individual empowerment, heightened global outlook and social justice (Skinner et al., 2013).

Principally, development education programmes have the potential to activate local and global citizenship (Skinner et al., 2013) through developing individuals’ “understanding of the globalised world” (Skinner et al., 2013 : 1) aided by transformative learning (Bourne, 2014).This is a wholly multicultural undertaking with individuals correlating and creating linkages and comparisons between their own lives and others globally (Bourne, 2014; Skinner et al., 2013). Thus, transformative learning fundamentally is individual then national and then global effecting. This is due to heightening individuals’ cross-cultural and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, thus transforming a wider global arena.    

These examples illustrate development education commonalities as cited within literature and global practice (Bourne, 2014). However, Skinner et al., (2013) state that these principles of development education, although crucial, are often absent from mainstream educational policies. Notably, this is inclusive of citizens developing core values of global justice, equality and inclusion (Skinner et al., 2013 : 93) to increase contributions to society.  

Development education is a key player within global justice (Bourne, 2014) allowing “all to be adequately positioned to enjoy the prospects for a decent life” (Brock, 2009 : 3). Development education policies and programmes, according to McMahon, often provide a “very high rate of return” (1999 : 124) using public resources with more efficiency particularly within rural areas. However, Bourne (2014 : 82) states development education programmes are only effective if they are both [positively] politically positioned and wholly active within their respective communities.

Lastly, there are numerous development education categorisations, purposes, rationales and standpoints, beyond these juxtaposing interpretations (Bourne, 2014). These are subject to organisational and/or political perspective and practice (Bourne, 2014). However, as I will explore throughout this essay, the contrasting understandings delineated above are particularly imperative to the discussion of potential development education through music education. 

3. What are the principles of effective music education?

Music education within the UK is continuously evolving (Schippers, Huib & Campbell, 2012; Hallam & Creech, 2010) and effectiveness and measurable success, according to Henley (2010 : 5) and DfE (2011a), are reliant on partnership, organisational collaboration and wider-accountability. Luce (2001 : 20) states that general collaborative potential of music education promotes enhanced possibilities for participants. This is considered through three resonating strands; knowledge is socially constructed, the authority (and thus accountability) of such knowledge is shared amongst a community, and personal relationships [inter-personal collaborations] shape the knowledge community (Luce, 2001 : 21). Mellizo (2019 : 6) states music is “a transformative phenomenon” based on shared responsibility and shared conceptual understanding to collaboratively formulate, affect and experiment with outcomes. Effective music education therefore gives individuals potential to transform themselves and surrounding local-global societies through ‘artistic citizenship’ (Elliott & Silverman, 2015). Music education provides a safe, and less consequential experimental and explorative arena to tackle inter-personal, cross-cultural and inter-societal issues.

This notion of social constructivism directly contributes to development education (Risse, 2004). Social constructivism is at the epicentre of effective music education (Luce, 2001). Henley (2010) is in agreement with Luce (2001) supporting the concept that “knowledge is socially constructed” (Luce, 2001 : 21). Clayton (2008) stipulates from a cultural standpoint and the essentiality Music (and therefore music education) has for societal and cross-cultural collaboration (2008 : 48). Invigorating “group cooperation and prosperity” (Clayton, 2008 : 49) potentially deflects societies away from ethnic communalism whilst promoting the continuity and solidity of culture (Clayton, 2008 : 48).

Extending the implications of socially constructed knowledge further, Hallam (2010) delineates Altenmuller’s (2003 : 349) notion of a ‘learning biography’. An individual’s ‘learning biography’ is a replication of prevailing cultural opportunities and influences (Hallam, 2010 : 2070). Arguably, if this ‘cultural net’ is wider through societal integration and/or social constructed knowledge (Alcántara & Ghai, 1994), individuals develop a richer, ethnically and socially constructed (Luce, 2001) global voice to essentially “foster a cosmopolitan spirit” (Appiah, 2008 : 83) e.g. sociocultural understanding leading to sociocultural co-operation. Mellizo (2019) states sociocultural co-operation is a further principle of effective music education. However, music education has been historically side-lined and neglected within development policy (Mellizo, 2019) and effectively non-active within the globalised development education market.

Principally, effective music education does not just focus on technical learning (Bourn, 2018) e.g. developing mechanical freedoms on an instrument.


Effective music education importantly focuses on ‘emotional’ skills (Campayo–Muñoz & Cabedo–Mas, 2017) and language-based, communication-based skills (Mizener, 2008) e.g. the art of diplomacy. This allows effective music education to develop a homogenised, and globally supportive, albeit individual, skill set. These individual inter-relational skills, lead to an increase in an individual’s ‘human capital’ (Valiente, 2004) and an intensification of skills imperative to facilitate cross-border “dialogue and experience[s]” (Bourne, 2014 : 34).

To conceptualise these standpoints further, music education can be considered from small ‘units’ of observation (Palan, 2010) e.g. increasing a range of psychosocial competences (Mahoney, Larson & Eccles, 2005) and positive and productive “state[s] of mental well-being” (Encinar, Tessier & Shankland, 2017 : 1). Contrastingly, the effectiveness of music education can be considered from the potential of ‘larger-units’ i.e. “multi-stakeholders” (Bourne, 2014 : 29) and the wider-collaborative effects of organisational [socially] constructed knowledge (Risse, 2004). Within music education, considering the wider-collaborative influence, for illustration, this could be the effect(s) of arts organisations interacting with the global world as one amalgamated body.

4. Are there any correlations between development education and effective music education?

Both development education and effective music education are multifaceted and complex, and are in a continuous state of evolving flux (Bourne, 2014; Schippers, Huib & Campbell, 2012; Hallam & Creech, 2010). Fundamentally, development education and effective music education stimulate positive, communal core-attitudinal change through developing specific skills and/or knowledge e.g. cross-cultural understanding through socially constructive and societal integrating methodologies (Bourne, 2014; Hallam 2010; Altenmuller, 2003; Luce, 2001). This is achieved through both development education and music education promoting comparable “framework[s] for broader learning” (Bourne, 2014 : 28) e.g. a refocusing on “dialogue and experience” (Bourne, 2014 : 34) through participatory educational environments (Skinner et al., 2013).These factors potentially lead to individual empowerment and a heightened understanding and hypothetical tackling of global-social issues (Skinner et al., 2013). This is illustrative of the principles of transformative learning (Mellizo, 2019; Bourne, 2014; Skinner et al., 2013; Clayton, 2008; Risse, 2004; Luce, 2001; Alcántara & Ghai, 1994).

Therefore, both development education and music education potentially increase an individual’s social capital and thus ‘human capital’ (Valiente, 2004). This allows individuals to not only sculpt identity as a global citizen (Appiah, 2008) but contribute more effectively globally.

Partnership, shared accountability and enhancement of programme effect through organisational “multi-stakeholder[ing]” (Bourne, 2014 : 29) also parallels in both development education and music education spheres (Bourne, 2014; Hallam & Creech, 2010; Henley, 2010; Luce, 2001).

These parallels and initial principles of development education and music education provide a backdrop to analyse the NPM and explore the potential for development education through music education.  


5. Analysis

To deliberate the potential for development education through the NPM and music education, initially I will reflect on the NPM from a wider-cultural standpoint. This includes considering the influencing impact(s) of the neoliberalist concept (Kotz, 2002), globalisation. Although globalisation is paradoxical, multifaceted and perspective dependant (Stromquist & Monkman, 2014), the terminology denotes irrevocable changes to multifaceted assets; economics, culture and politics (Stromquist & Monkman, 2014). This is a cyclical affair signifying the ‘exchange’ between global and local [and vice-versa] (Hassi & Storti, 2011). Hassi & Storti’s (2011), ‘exchange’ consists of a transference of cultural identity, attitudes and societal values etc. across borders (Stromquist & Monkman, 2014). Global unification, through globalisation potentially leads to “homogeneity of value and norms” (Stromquist & Monkman, 2014) which from certain development education perspectives could be resourceful. For instance, this could include ‘exchanging’ positive, core-attitudinal change through a specific skill set development aided by transformative learning undertaken potentially through both development education and music education in conjunction (Mellizo, 2019; Bourne, 2014; Skinner et al.,  2013; Clayton, 2008; Risse, 2004; Luce, 2001 Alcántara & Ghai, 1994). However, it is important to consider development education is often a reaction to tackle globalisation e.g. tackling the increased uncertainty, homogenisation of identity and expanding wealth-gap progressed by globalisation (Bourne, 2014 : 1).

Music has a capacity to transverse cross-cultural boundaries (Mellizo, 2019; Mehr, Sing, York, Glowacki & Kransnow, 2017) and traditional subject limitations (Mellizo, 2019). Mehr et al., (2017 : 356) exemplifies this capacity through experimenting with the communicational power of basic musical formats including lullabies and other rudimentary formats e.g. dance-based songs. Mehr et al., (2017) research proved that spoken language is prerequisite to communicating cross-culturally and/or through borders. In this context, Music enhanced subliminal communication achieving communication of an array of complex ‘emotional’ (Campayo–Muñoz & Cabedo–Mas, 2017) ideologies. This allow Music (and therefore music education) to bridge and actively engage cross-cultural understanding through ‘exchange’ and transformative learning methodologies (Bourne, 2014; Hallam, 2010; Altenmuller, 2003; Luce, 2001). O’Neill (2014) distinguishes the power of music education as a dynamic cultural matrix, on a multifaceted level has the potential to positively and negatively collaborate with development education. Music education, therefore, is not confined to geography (Hassi & Storti, 2011) or nationalistic language (Mehr et al., 2017), potentially effecting global societies positively through more fluid mobility of culture and ideas (Stromquist & Monkman, 2014; Hassi & Storti, 2011).

From a general standpoint the NPM prides the UK’s contribution to the international musical community with particular focus on ‘high art’ e.g. traditional, classical composers and also the success of “jazz, folk and world music on the international stage” (DfE, 2011a : 3). The NPM, in part, models the UK’s music education shake up on the globally successful and internationally conceived educational models e.g. the controversial and debatably elitist (Baker, 2014) “Venezuelan El Sistema model” (DfE, 2011a : 4, italics in original). El Sistema is a self-confessed (Baker, 2014), social-justice music programme rooted within classical orchestral ensemble. Across Venezuela there are numerous ensembles rooted within multiple localised communities (Sistema Europe, 2020).

El Sistema, importantly, was heralded as a game-changer in music education. Majno (2020 : 1) considers El Sistema a “powerful transformational agent”. El Sistema aimed to address deep-rooted Venezuelan societal issues e.g. poverty and gang crime (Majno, 2012; Hopkins, Provenzano & Spencer, 2017; Booth, 2009). Participants, are in essence, developed as individuals e.g. developing “self-esteem, mutual respect and cooperative skills” (Sistema Global, 2020a : 1). This led (and still leads to) positively recognised impact(s) on national/global society and economy (Majno, 2020; Hopkins et al., 2017). Participants sculpted more effectual identities as global citizens (Appiah, 2008) through heightening their ‘human capital’ (Valiente, 2004). El Sistema essentially unlocked an individual’s potential through the notion of transformative learning. As such, El Sistema is akin to development education and importantly, development education through music education. This positioning potentially allows “all to be adequately positioned to enjoy the prospects for a decent life” (Brock, 2009 : 3). This allows El Sistema’s (and therefore the NPM’s) systematic education model to transmit and instil global justice, ‘exchange’ (Hassi & Storti, 2011), of core-societal values whilst also exploiting an individual’s ‘learning biography’ (Altenmuller, 2003), in this context through the vehicle of music-making.  Arguably, this is reflective of Bourne’s (2014), ‘active’ prerequisite whilst categorising development education e.g. requiring active participation from a community.

Furthermore, El Sistema, is considered a Venezuelen export (Scripp, 2016) projecting a “truly global [music education] movement” (Sistema Global, 2020b : 1, my italics). Sistema Global (2020b :1) estimates sixty countries worldwide provide El Sistema-based music education foundations. This programme, unlike the NPM, was not established by the Venezuelan administration or education board (Majno, 2012) although functions as efficient driver for societal development and effectual social investment (Baker, 2014). El Sistema provides a “very high rate of return” (McMahon, 1999 : 124), making emulating the programme lucrative for foreign governmental policies and, in my opinion, development education agendas. This also labels El Sistema with a politically orientated facet matching Bourne’s (2014) prior stipulation for political involvement to instil effective development education. The positive implications and impact of El Sistema protract further when considering Venezuela’s ruralised and isolated communities, high-proportional household poverty and current economic and socio-political crisis (BBC, 2020; Venezuelen & Ausman, 2019).

El Sistema, and the programme’s consequent emulative repercussions within the NPM, is pointedly not without critics (Baker, 2016; Scripp, 2016; Baker, 2014; Majno, 2012). For instance, Baker (2014) considers El Sistema to revolve around self-referential claims rather than neutral study into the benefits for participants and thus society. The programme itself, is based on 19th century “first wave” (World Bank, 2016 : 24 - 26) global integration philosophies. For instance, El Sistema is formulated using European high-art ideologies and assumptions e.g. educating the masses to increase productivity and economic power through consumeristic profit (Baker, 2014). El Sistema, and therefore the NPM imitation (DfE, 2011a) has be cited to suppress potential revolution (Baker, 2014) through the monopolisation of governmental power (Spruce, 2013) within educational spheres. This contradicts the social-justice development education principles previously cited. Additionally, this consumeristic, ‘Industrial Revolution’ based standpoint (World Bank, 2016) could be considered more a product of modern-day globalisation rather than development education principles. As previously stated, development education is often a response to tackle globalisation (Bourne, 2014).

Complicating this further, cultural engagement, and therefore development education through music education, is often reinforced through consumerism as “consumption is freedom” (James, 2010 : 9)  e.g. individuals having the capital to experience and benefit from different cultures through purchases e.g. concert tickets, memberships of choirs etc. These multifaceted positions are clearly complex and paradoxical.

Within the NPM, the creation of nationwide ‘Music Education Hubs’ (DfE, 2011a : 10) was considered, by some critics, self-defeating and sustaining social and educational inequalities (Spruce, 2013). ‘Music Education Hubs’ (DfE, 2011a : 10), on first glance, appears to suppress the potential for music education to be a vehicle for development education through emphasising societal class divisions (Baker, 2014) e.g. through the NPM promoting ‘high-art’ principles (DfE, 2011a) - see page 18. However, the NPM essentially combined music education provided by separate entities e.g. art-based and education-based entities (DfE, 2011a : 11). This centralises and enhances resources emphasising the power of “multi-stakeholder[s]” (Bourne, 2014 : 29) whilst harnessing a rich tapestry of voices (Bourne, 2014). This therefore enhances opportunities and transformative learning for all participants (Luce, 2001).

Although, imperialistic centralisation is arguably economy driven e.g. creating partnerships that are “better value for money […] with greater accountability” (DfE. 2011a : 10), designed to disguise real-term budget cuts (Sharp, 2014). This collaborative, non-nationalistic-language-based potential of music education (Mehr er al., 2017) is paramount when considering development education viability. Music education is not confined to geography (Hassi & Storti, 2011) and more-effectively transverses traditional border boundaries than that of traditional discourse whilst tackling and alleviating inter-societal insecurities.

The NPM combines historic and ‘traditional’ cultural-musical practices e.g. one-to-one [British] instrumental tuition (DfE, 2011a : 9) with modernist educational principles e.g. community fuelled ‘active’ (Bourne, 2014) change (Skinner et al., 2013). There is a greater emphasis on “dialogue and experience” (Bourne, 2014 : 34) rather than just individual instrumental-based skills (DfE, 2011a). An advocate of this within the NPM is the ‘Sing Up’ programme (DfE, 2011a : 11). ‘Sing Up’, created as a UK government funded singing initiative, has transformed into global entity (Sing Up, 2020). This programme combines resources, educational practices and organisations, sourced from a global stage (Sing Up, 2020). ‘Sing Up’ uses public resources with greater efficiency, again with greater positive implications for rural-English communities (McMahon, 1999). Importantly, development education initiatives are not just constrained to the Global South but every individual (Bourne, 2014).

To illustrate this, I have personally been involved with art-organisations and educational-organisations collaborating e.g. The BBC Philharmonic outreaching into Salford City Centre primary schools. These projects theoretically provide opportunity to reduce poverty and inequality (Rahim, Abidin, Ping, Alias & Muhamad, 2014). This is a notable trait of development education, not just development education raising awareness (Bourne, 2014; Skinner, Blum & Bourne, 2013) - as explored in my initial juxtaposition - but also “framework for broader learning” (Bourne, 2014 : 28). These factors invoke inter-cultural learning and individual linkages with other citizens globally (Bourne, 2013), reducing educational inequalities through promoting positive action.  Spruce (2013) argues to the contrary stating social and educational inequalities are exasperated by these programmes and ‘Music Education Hubs’. Spruce (2013) argues this is due to the uniformity promoted within the programmes rather than championing diversity and individuality (Spruce, 2013 : 113). El Sistema could be considered another example of this (Baker, 2014) e.g. promoting governmental monopolisation (Spruce, 2013) and discouraging revolution (Baker, 2014).

In my experience, due to the influence of 19th century culture on instrumental teaching practices, in combination with the above and in agreement with Spruce (2013), young people are often alienated through ‘high-art’ ideologies. These negative connotations mean young people are less likely to engage with music education based, transformative learning programmes that potentially increase social capital (Valiente, 2004) to sculpt global identity (Appiah, 2008).

The NPM’s ‘Music Education Hubs’, are contradictory and reminiscent of the complex relationships between globalisation and poverty and development education responses (Bourne, 2014; Rahim et al., 2014). Firstly, a reduction of poverty and inequality is promoted through access to music education based programmes e.g. the NPM’s stipulations that every child between 5 - 18 is given the opportunity to develop skills on a musical instrument (DfE, 2011a : 26). These opportunities, e.g. the access to ‘high-art’ would have traditionally been dominated by the affluent middle-class (Baker, 2014). This, in-part is due to higher financial authority and the “material conditions in which people grow up in” (Manstead, 2019 : 1).  Contradictorily, poverty and inequality are also potentially re-enforced e.g. through promotion of more-traditional, and in my experience, ‘elitist’, ‘high-art’ forms e.g. classical orchestras, the traditional disposable income outlets for the affluent middle-class.

‘High-art’, as previously touched upon, could be interpreted as having more cultural significance within NPM (Baker, 2014; DfE, 2011a) e.g. the work of Thomas Tallis, William Byrd […] Thomas Adès and Howard Goodall (DfE, 2011a : 3), traditional, classically-based composers e.g. those of chorus and orchestral based outputs. Putting these art forms on a pedestal further exasperates the development and class divides (Baker, 2014) and the potential positive effect of development education through music education programmes. In short, the NPM and thus music education, fundamentally reduces and in parallel contributes to poverty and class-division, akin to the multifaceted and complex nature of development education (Bourne, 2014).

The NPM implies neo-liberalist working cultures through increased organisational accountability (DfE, 2011a : 27). This accountability is paramount whilst considering and instigated cultural partnerships to insure “[…] value for money” (DfE. 2011a : 10). As previously explored, effective partnership is paramount in both development education and music education spheres (Bourne, 2014; Hallam & Creech, 2010; Henley, 2010; Luce, 2001). There has been recent, and unprecedented, growth of employment areas such as service-based industries (Bourne, 2018). This, in real-terms, has led to further casualisation of music educators’ working rights and conditions (MU, 2014) through a rise of zero-hour contracts. The apparent “dismantling of the economic safety net” (Nadasen 2013 : 1), originally inaugurated by neo-liberalism (Martinez & Garcia, 1997) and increased worked flexibility (Bourne, 2018), encourages privatisation, free-market capitalisation and increased self-employment (Bourne, 2018). This devolution, however, is potentially beneficial to music education based, development education programmes. Shorter term music and development collaborations would benefit from staffing flexibility to be viable - as do many current music education based programmes e.g. my previous flexible contracts within The Hallé and BBC Philharmonic. From an organisational standpoint, not being tied to traditional working contracts alleviates the pressure of unpredictable funding sources and greater market choice. Jain highlights this current global transitioning from a “sellers-market […] [to a] buyers-market” (2015 :1) i.e. the consumer, in this case arts-organisation, could exercise their choice to increase educational impact. However, to the detriment of potential music education and development education programmes, this may be at the sacrifice of practitioner quality. Due to zero-hour contracts, the Musicians’ Union (MU) (2014) noted a rise of recent graduates leading music education projects. These graduates were often unexperienced and unqualified teachers (MU, 2014). The recruitment of more-experienced educators, due to the flexible working-conditions cited, can be more challenging (MU, 2014).

This factor complicates music education being a potential vehicle for development education from a staffing perspective. The potential workforce is hypothetically less skilled on project entry, needing more investment. Resources are more likely to be consumed inwardly with less immediate benefits to targeted development. Additionally, development education programmes are designed, in-part, to reduce poverty and inequality (Bourne, 2014) which, contradictorily, working-conditions within music education are actively promoting.   

Bourne (2018 : 38) instructs skills must adapt to allow contribution to global society. This is while developing meaningful and often technological based skills that transcend just technical learning e.g. ‘emotional’ skills (Bourne, 2018 : 38 - 39). It is imperative to see skills in the context of Bourne’s (2018) ‘skills for life’ to navigate evolving economic demand and thus be practical for development education. Increasing skills’ transferability, leads to career-transferability, greater economic growth and further viability from a governmental standpoint.

From a funding perspective, the NPM re-structuring places Arts Council England (ACE) at the top of the music education organisational chain. See 5i.

5i. NPM Music Education funding


Due to ACE directly reporting to the DfE (DfE, 2011a) this, in effect, forms a government-lead educational agenda. This primes the NPM with the potential for development education due to being active and politically orientated (Bourne, 2014 : 82). This also provides efficient social development (Baker, 2014) with a high returns (McMahon, 1999), potentially reducing poverty and inequality (Rahim et al., 2014).

An example of government instilled pedagogy within the NPM with this potential effect, aside from El Sistema-based modelling, would be ‘Musical Futures’. ‘Musical Futures’ is a non-formal pedagogical movement centralising pupil’s own interests, competences and explorative, informal learning (Paul Hamlyn Foundation, 2013). This is predominately aimed at Key Stage 3 - Key Stage 4 classrooms (Paul Hamlyn Foundation, 2013). Again, encompassing some of the key aggregates of transformative learning e.g. critical thinking (Skinner, et al, 2013) effecting core-behavioural change (Bourne, 2014). Also, this programme arguably develops a range of valuable ‘soft’ skills (Bourne, 2018) e.g. enhances societal integration (Alcántara & Ghai, 1994) and/or ‘emotional’ skills (Campayo–Muñoz & Cabedo–Mas, 2017) essential for the impending global citizen (Bourne, 2018).

6. Conclusion

I intended to explore the potential for development education through music education focused through the lens of the UK’s National Plan for Music Education (NPM), (DfE, 2011a). Music education has been historically side-lined and neglected within developmental policy (Mellizo, 2019) although, as discussed above, music education provides rich opportunities to stimulate core-attitudinal change, develop specific skill sets to aid cross-cultural understanding (Bourne, 2014; Hallam, 2010; Altenmuller, 2003; Luce, 2001). The is achieved through arguably comparable “framework[s] for broader learning” (Bourne, 2014 : 28) e.g. progressing emotional’ skills (Campayo–Muñoz & Cabedo–Mas, 2017) and transferrable psychosocial competencies (Mahoney et al., 2005) e.g. a positive psychological well-being (Encinar, Tessier & Shankland, 2017 ).

The positive potential of music education as a vehicle for development education has proved particularly effective within current social-justice-based programmes such as El Sistema, which aspects of the NPM are modelled on (DfE, 2011a). This inspires “community driven change” (Skinner et al., 2013) and refocuses potential development education on “dialogue and experience” (Bourne, 2014 : 34).  Importantly, El Sistema is considered a “powerful transformational agent” challenging deep-rooted Venezuelan societal issues e.g. poverty (Majno, 2012; Hopkins, Provenzano & Spencer, 2017; Booth, 2009). Combining music education and development education, due to factors explored in this essay, would more coherently develop local and global citizenship (Skinner et al., 2013) instigating organisation partnerships that are “better value for money […] with greater accountability” (DfE. 2011a : 10) leading to McMahon’s (1999) notion of high efficiency social returns.

Music is fundamentally powerful as a potential vehicle for development education due to transcending nationalistic language barriers (Mehr et al., 2017). This effectively provides a single communicative, approachable and adaptable language with greater transferability to liquidise culture and ideas (Stromquist & Monkman, 2014; Hassi & Storti, 2011). However, the complex relationship between development education and music education, as the concepts themselves (Bourne, 2014; Schippers, Huib & Campbell, 2012; Hallam & Creech, 2010), is multifaceted and on occasion, contradictory. For instance, successful music education could be considered a product of modern-day globalisation due to consumeristic tendencies (Baker, 2014). Music education, as a stand-alone entity, has the potential to both reduce and contribute to poverty and class division in parallel (Baker, 2014). Development education, in this context, could be considered a response to tackle globalisation which has possibly transpired due to music education. For instance, music education professionals working-conditions are often flexible-working contracts (MU, 2014). This potentially aids development education/music education deliverance although also contributes to poverty and equality due to the instability of employment. Notably, these are the very essentials which development education is designed to alleviate (Bourne, 2014).

            These factors considered, music education, as outlined above, has vast potential for development education and, in my opinion, could indefinitely achieve Mellizo’s (2019 : 6) statement; music is “a transformative phenomenon”. I suggest the following recommendations to extend the NPM’s upcoming decennial ‘White Paper’ revamp (DfE, 2020) and outreach into development education.

  • Decreasing the tendency towards ‘high-art’ to attract, rather than alienate, potential participants. This principally would provide a higher quantifiable access to music education and thus development education e.g. expanding the ‘Musical Futures’ (Paul Hamlyn Foundation, 2013) popular-music-based approach. The outcomes of these programmes would then affect a higher proportion of the population.


  • Encourage organisations to be governmental partners rather than organisations delivering governmental-lead programmes. This not only discourages monopolisation but potentially inspires rather than suppresses needed revolution.


  • Having a specific development education sections of the policy documents pin-pointing exact methodologies for specific geographies and/or localities rather than one policy and/or programme for the entire UK music education provision. This will allow for programmes such as El Sistema or ‘Sing Up’ to be pin-pointed for specific communities to achieve the maximum impact.  


  • Encouraging development education and music education partnerships with ‘sociocultural co-operation’ as a defined aim. Mellizo (2019) states this isn’t often a stipulated aim of educational-based programmes.


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