A-level results published today by the Joint Council for Qualifications show that the uptake of music at A-level continues to decline, a worrying trend over the last 12 years that shows no signs of abating.

Since 2008 there has been a 47% decline in music entries at A-level.

However, we are pleased to see that a larger percentage of students attained the top grades in music in 2020 compared to all A-level subjects. A total of 35% of pupils achieved A*-A grades in music compared to 28% for all subjects.

A-level results were awarded to students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland today.
Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said:

‘Young people studying A-level music this year have experienced significant disruption to their lives because of COVID-19 and the grades published today must be a fair reflection of their ability and hard work. We are pleased to see that overall a larger percentage of students attained the top grades in music this year compared to all A-level subjects, and we congratulate all students from this year’s cohort. However, it is extremely concerning that the number of candidates in A-level music continues to fall: 47% over the past twelve years.

‘There is a vast array of evidence, including our State of the Nation report, demonstrating that funding cuts and accountability measures, such as the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), are devastating music education and creative subjects, yet the Department for Education remains fixated on this highly flawed policy.

‘It is vital that studying music does not become the preserve of the privileged few, which is why we urge the government to either extend the EBacc to include arts subjects, including music, or scrap it altogether. In light of the continued decline in music education, and the ongoing challenges the sector faces caused by COVID-19, the National Plan for Music Education, which expires this year, must be refreshed as a matter of urgency.’