NYMAZ announces second phase of distance learning programme
1 December 2015, Alex Stevens
Pupils taking part in the first phase of Connect: Resound
The NYMAZ (North Yorkshire Music Action Zone) has announced that the second phase of its Connect: Resound distance learning programme will take place in rural areas in Cornwall, Cumbria, Durham & Darlington, East Riding of Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.
Music education hubs in these areas will be provided with equipment and training to enable their teachers to deliver online lessons, based on the model used during the Connect: Resound pilot which took place in seven North Yorkshire primary schools earlier this year.
The method uses video streaming, Skype and Twitter to allow teachers to lead lessons in hard-to-reach rural areas from a central base. Partners in the project include technology partner UCan Play and the University of Hull.
The summary report on the project’s pilot found that, despite a feeling that face-to-face teaching remained the ideal model, any technical issues were possible to overcome and the project represented a viable way of providing instrumental music lessons in hard-to-reach areas.
All parents gave at least ‘satisfactory’ feedback on their children’s progress, with 74% of pupils and 68% of parents or carers wanting lessons to continue either ‘quite a lot’ or ‘very much’.
In the pilot area, £77,000 was spent each year on teachers’ mileage allowance, with total travelling time in a typical week amounting to 139 hours to deliver 980 hours of face-to-face tuition.
‘There are potential savings both in terms of economic costs and time spent by teachers travelling between schools,’ said the report. In this area, the lower costs could make lessons viable in particularly small and remote schools where there were not enough pupils to make face-to-face lessons cost effective.
Heidi Johnson, director of NYMAZ, said of the expansion: ‘The National Plan for Music Education states that all children should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument – we are striving to make this a reality.
‘We are delighted to be working with new Music Education Hub partners across the country which see the potential to create enhanced music education opportunities for rurally isolated children by using digital technology.
‘The funding from Arts Council England and J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust will enable the Music Education Hubs to embed high-quality online learning methods into their business plans.’
Spending review puts pressure on local authorities
25 November 2015, Alex Stevens
Council cuts: George Osborne delivers his spending review
Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his spending review, including a £10bn overall increase in education spending over the course of the parliament and a promise of higher funding for Arts Council England. The review details departmental spending limits up to 2020 and beyond.
A new funding formula for schools will be introduced from 2017, with the aim of reducing geographical disparities in per-pupil spending. The Department for Education will run a consultation on the changes next year.
‘We will make local authorities running schools become a thing of the past,’ said Osborne. ‘Our goal is to complete the school revolution and help every secondary school become an academy … This will help us save around £600m from the Education Services Grant.’
In 2014 the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) led a campaign to protect music spending through the Education Services Grant, which is given to councils on a per-pupil basis and through which around £21m was thought to have been spent by councils on music education in 2011/12. If the government’s aim was achieved, any money spent through the ESG would also be lost.
By the end of the parliament the direct allocation for local governments’ day-to-day spending will be £4.1bn less per year than it is currently. This means that non-statutory services, including councils’ support for music education and cultural provision, are likely to come under further pressure.
Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said in response: 'Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children's centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.'
To mitigate the effects of budget cuts, councils will be allowed to sell off assets and retain all of the proceeds, and have been encouraged to make use of their reserves.
Spending on culture will be maintained, said Osborne: ‘Deep cuts in the small budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are a false economy. Its core administration budget will fall by 20% but I am increasing the cash that will go to the Arts Council, our national museums and galleries.’
With its spending limits confirmed, the Department for Education should now be in a position to decide how much will be spent on music education hubs after the end of the current financial year.
Responding to the review, the ISM's chief executive, Deborah Annetts, said she was 'delighted' that the Arts Council's budget had been protected and welcomed Osborne's continued commitment to investing in the cultural sector.
However, she said, the government's education policy did not reflect this commitment: 'We are therefore troubled by plans to continue with the unevidenced and deeply damaging EBacc proposal which excludes creative subjects and creative industry skills from our secondary schools.
'These mixed messages must be sorted out, and creative subject given equal value in our schools.
'The Government have proved their commitment to music education before, committing £75m to support music education hubs in 2015/16 (an increase of £18m) and we hope that this commitment will continue.’
Trinity Laban announces new head of keyboard studies
25 November 2015
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance has appointed Peter Tuite as its new head of keyboard studies. He succeeds Deniz Gelenbe, who will continue to teach at the conservatoire.
Joyce DiDonato launches Opera Rocks
25 November 2015
Joyce DiDonato has launched Opera Rocks, a free online newsletter for high school students.
RAM appoints new head of musical theatre
25 November 2015
Daniel Bowling will join the Royal Academy of Music as head of musical theatre in January 2016. He will succeed Björn Dobbelaere, head of musical theatre since 2012, who is to pursue a full-time career as a musical director and conductor.
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