Teaching of music to children and adults ground to a halt during the pandemic years, but now music teachers across the UK are seeing a boom in people wanting to learn to play the piano or have formal singing training. As a consequence of this rising demand for music teaching, the Musicians Union has issued new guidance for its members. Although aimed at teachers, lots of the advice is relevant to parents too when looking for a music teacher for their children.
Safeguarding Code of Conduct
The first thing to look for when enquiring about a music teacher for your child is whether the teacher is a member of the Musicians Union. If they are, they will have signed up to the union’s code of conduct, which sets out expected behaviour standards for people working in all types of music education. If a teacher is not part of the union, they may be accredited in another way, such as a school music teacher who has undergone an enhanced DBS checking process for their main job, and is taking on private pupils in the evening or school holidays. No prospective music teacher will be offended if a parent asks about their qualifications or memberships.
Enhanced DBS Checks for Music Teachers
Music teachers who are members of the Musicians’ Union can also access an enhanced DBS check through the Union. Enhanced DBS checks are restricted to certain occupations and individuals cannot apply for an enhanced check for themselves, only through a registered body such as the Union. An enhanced DBS check is the “gold standard” in background checking, and the most detailed criminal records check available. It considers not only current convictions and cautions, but also more distant cautions and convictions too. Given that music teachers often spend most of their working hours in close proximity with children, this high level of background check is essential.
Applying for an enhanced disclosure check through the Musicians Union is straightforward. The union processes large numbers of these checks every year and have members of staff who can help answer any queries which applicants have about filling in the form or verifying identity. It can take some weeks for disclosure checks to be completed.
Advice for Parents
If you are in the position of looking for music tuition for a child, then a good starting point is looking for a teacher who also gives music lessons in a local school or college. This is a guarantee that the teacher has already gone through the vetting required to work in a school. If the teacher is still a student, then the other option is to check whether they are part of the musicians’ union and then to ask about DBS checking. Many parents are concerned that by asking about police checks or criminal records, they are in some way insulting the teacher. This is not the case, and any teacher will be more than happy to offer reassurance to the parents of any potential student.