Threatened Scottish music school moves towards financial security
25 February 2011
The future is looking more positive for Scotland’s National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music following recent discussions with Highland Council. At the meeting to set the council’s 2011-2012 budget in February, it voted to withdraw the Wester Ross centre’s £300,000-a-year funding from the end of July 2012. Based at Plockton High School, the centre currently offers 24 students, 19 of whom are residential, in-depth tuition, workshops and masterclasses in traditional music.
However, following a demonstration by over 100 musicians outside the council’s Inverness offices and an online petition, Hugh Fraser, director of education, culture and sport, says Highland Council is committed to looking at options for safeguarding the centre. ‘We’re looking at a range of possible partnering options, efficiencies to make the centre more cost-effective and ways of generating more income.’
He adds that with the school empty during the summer months and at weekends, there is the potential to work with other agencies to run workshops and courses to grow the business. In terms of partnerships, Dougie Pincock, the centre’s director, is exploring different funding streams including a possible tie-in with the University of the Highlands and Islands, in particular its West Highland College.
‘We’re looking at carrying out consultancy work on behalf of the UHI and college. There are additional activities we might be able to provide in partnership with the college which would widen the access to this centre for other potential user groups and open up other funding streams. It is important to stress that any additional activity will not impinge on the core business which is delivering a secondary school project.’
Mr Pincock has been advised by the council that he can continue to recruit as normal during the forthcoming round of auditions which he believes indicates that the centre will still be running at the end of 2012.
MU and NUT agree partnership
16 February 2011
The Musicians’ Union (MU) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have announced a new partnership to allow the two organisations to work together to promote music education in England and Wales, and to oppose cuts to music services.
Christine Blower, the NUT’s general secretary, said, ‘I welcome the opportunity to be working with the MU to ensure that our schools do not lose their music services.’ She added, ‘It is essential that music remains part of the national curriculum; it is only through timetabled lessons that a minimum entitlement can be guaranteed.’
Giving an indication of the campaigning the new partnership will undertake, Diane Widdison, the MU’s national organiser for teaching, said, ‘While we are pleased to see the recommendations made by the Henley Review, we are concerned that over a third of music services have already issued redundancy notices because of cuts in local authority funding. We strongly believe that every child should have a quality music education and we urge the government to act quickly to safeguard jobs and music education provision.’
28 February deadline set for submissions to GLA music education audit
16 February 2011
In response to the Mayor of London’s Music Education Strategy, which has ‘identified a pressing need for a comprehensive audit of music education provision in the capital,’ the Greater London Authority has commissioned the University of London’s Institute of Education to compile thoughts and opinions from London’s music education providers and users. The survey takes about ten minutes to complete online; MT readers living in Greater London should be sure to voice their opinions on the capital's music education before the survey closes on 28 February. Complete the survey here: www.musiceducationaudit.com
Henley Review and government response broadly welcomed by music educators
7 February 2011
The Henley Review of the Funding and Delivery of Music Education in England has been published on the Department for Education’s website, some five weeks after it was scheduled for release. A government response has been published to accompany it.
Darren Henley, chief executive of Classic FM, was commissioned by Michael Gove to undertake the review last September. Submissions from across the music education sector were invited, of which almost 1,000 were received, resulting in a lengthy but concise document containing 36 separate policy recommendations. The government response indicates that some of these will be adopted immediately, while others will be considered over time.
In the review’s introduction, Henley states that music education in England is ‘good in places but distinctly patchy,’ a failure for which ‘everybody involved with music education should share responsibility.’ He suggests that ‘large-scale initiatives and programmes in the last five years have not resulted in uniformity of provision’, a problem which he proposes could be remedied by ‘funding models which offer a more cohesive approach.’
Among the 36 recommendations are the suggestions that music remain on the national curriculum, and that it be included in the new English Baccalaureate at the next review. In addition, the review argues for the continuation of ringfenced funding and suggests that the current mixed economic funding model is essentially sound, as well as urging the government to devise a coherent ‘national plan’ for music, perhaps involving local ‘hubs’ which could merge the management of different providers.
The government response postpones the consideration of music’s place on the curriculum but is clearer on ring-fenced funding, of which £82.5m will be available for 2011-12 ‘as a basis for transforming the way music education will be funded across the country.’ No funding commitments are given for 2012-13 onwards. The achievements of the Sing Up and In Harmony initiatives are both recognised, with funding given for 2011-12, beyond which they will become the responsibility of Arts Council England and Youth Music.
Music education leaders have reacted positively to the review. Virginia Haworth-Galt, chief executive of the Federation of Music Services, said: ‘I believe this is a landmark report. Darren Henley has argued passionately for the value of music education and has provided clear recommendations to ensure that children, wherever they live in England, can benefit from it.
‘We congratulate the government for responding so positively and listening to the FMS and others across the sector. We welcome the news that music services will receive the same level of funding from the government and hope that this support will continue after 2012. We also urge all local authorities to continue their financial support too.
‘By backing the report’s recommendation for a "National Plan for Music Education", the government has also shown its commitment to work with us, schools and all music educators to make Darren Henley’s vision a reality – to provide all children with the music education they deserve.’
Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said: ‘The review makes the key finding that ‘the provision of Music Education should remain a statutory requirement as part of the National Curriculum,’ which we heartily endorse. We also call on the government to act on the review’s recommendation that music should be included in the English Baccalaureate, something the government has so far failed to do, thereby threatening the place of music in secondary schools.’
She added: ‘We’re impressed by government’s commitment to music education and the news that the Music Grant will not be cut at all in the next year. Michael Gove has issued a challenge to local authorities to match the government’s commitment and continue to fund music education.’
The review contains many more recommendations than have been reported here; go to www.education.gov.uk to download it and the government response in full.
EBacc already hitting school music, says NAME survey
26 January 2011
A survey conducted by the National Association of Music Educators (NAME) has revealed that the widely predicted adverse impact of the English Baccalaureate on curricular music education is already being seen.
Music does not feature on the list of qualifying subjects for the course, as confirmed in December, and 57 of 95 music departments surveyed by NAME indicated that their schools are planning a cut-back of post-14 music provision from September 2011.
NAME is calling on the government to reconsider the exclusion of music and other arts from the Baccalaureate. Its chair, Sarah Kekus, said: 'The arts have long been recognised as an essential part of a broad and balanced education. Excluding the arts from the English Baccalaureate makes them invisible in school, not only leading to cuts in provision, but also reducing opportunities for young people to gain recognition for what they excel in.'
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