Music education services for schools are at risk despite Education Secretary Michael Gove guaranteeing funding for a year, and the government’s Henley Review talking up the importance of music education, because of budget cuts at a local authority level.
Although Gove has said that central government funding for music education will be unchanged for at least a year, many music education services around the UK rely on local authority funding also. With said local authorities facing their own cuts, many say they simply can’t prioritise music education programmes over other council services. The Musicians’ Union fear that this will result in job losses and the renegotiation of contracts (so they are less favourable) in the music education sector.
The Union’s Naomi MacDonald told CMU: “Given Michael Gove’s commitment to music education and equality of provision across the country and to pupils of all backgrounds and economic circumstances, which was echoed in the Henley Review, it is very disappointing that local authorities are withdrawing their support from music [education] services and allowing them to diminish”.
She added: “In London, several music services will cease to exist in their current form and job losses are inevitable. Teachers’ contracts are also being amended and staff will be required to work longer hours, for the same, or in a few cases less, pay. Those music services which have lost funding but are seeking to avoid redundancies or major changes to staff contracts are forced to significantly increase the cost of lessons and instrument hire. In some areas, parents will see charges increase by up to 40%. How can equality of provision be achieved when costs increase and the number of teachers employed reduces?”