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Student protests help secure Aberdeen’s music service

14 December 2010

Councillor Martin Greig accepts a petition from protesters Jillian Hunter and Lauren McPhail
Councillor Martin Greig accepts a petition from protesters Jillian Hunter and Lauren McPhail

Young people in Aberdeen now sense victory in a campaign of petitioning, letter-writing and protest against proposals to cut council funding to the Aberdeen City Music Service.

Councillors have made encouraging statements to suggest that protestors’ worst fears – that the music service might be scrapped– will not come about.

Council leader John Stewart issued a statement on 2 December saying that while it was ‘difficult for the lowest-funded council in Scotland to maintain a gold standard service… We will do all we can to ensure that a high-quality music service – accessible to all – survives.

‘We will need to make some savings from the service and will look to see if these can be secured by maintaining the quality of the service, but delivering it in a different way' said Stewart.


Qualifying subjects for English Baccalaureate clarified - no music

14 December 2010

Music will not be a qualifying subject for the new English Baccalaureate, plans for which were formally set out last month in Michael Gove’s schools white paper, ‘The Importance of Teaching’.

The Baccalaureate will be awarded to pupils who pass at least five GCSEs at grade C or above, and must include one each from the following list: English, maths, a science, a foreign language and a humanity (history or geography).

It is hoped to become the main schools performance indicator, eventually replacing the current GCSE data which are based on A*-C pass rates for five or more GCSEs in any subject.

Its intention is to recognise schools which provide a good breadth of education to their pupils, but fears have also been raised that music, along with other subjects which do not qualify, might be marginalised as headteachers focus on core subjects.

There had been uncertainty as to whether or not music might fall under the category of humanities, but an addendum document published this month has clarified the situation with a full list of qualifying subjects. Music is not on this list, with only variations of history and geography qualifying as humanities.


BETT Education show runs from 12 to 15 Jan

14 December 2010

The BETT education technology show will be held at London’s Olympia on 12-15 January, offering ‘the opportunity to view, touch and test all that is new in the industry’. The largest education technology exhibition in the world, BETT will showcase over 600 exhibitors and include 100 seminars.

Music-themed seminars will include Brendon Le Page, head of Lambeth music service, on the online benefits delivered by the In Harmony Lambeth project, and Louise Dorrian, music teacher at Lodge Park Technology College, with a presentation entitled 'Deeper engagement of students and parents through social networking and games based learning'.

Visit the website for a full list of seminars and exhibitors.


Audition dates and venues announced for Youth Music Theatre 2011

6 December 2010

Terry Pratchet's 'Mort'
Terry Pratchet's 'Mort'

Auditions for Youth Music Theatre’s 2011 season will be held across the UK and in Dublin during January and February. 2011’s productions will include an adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel Mort, a musical theatre version of Macbeth by Garth McConaghie and Stuart Harvey, and ‘Out There’, an intergalactic drama written by the same team as 2010’s successful ‘Loserville’.

Audition dates and venues:

London (Riverside Studios, 15 January, 19 & 25 February), Berkshire (South Hill Park Arts Centre, 16 January), Liverpool (Studio Liverpool, 22 January), Leeds (Carriageworks, 23 January), Plymouth (Barbican Theatre, 29 January), Bristol (Old Vic, 30 January), Dublin (Dancehouse, 5 February), Belfast (Youth Action, 6 February), Manchester (Zion Arts Centre, 12 February), Newcastle (Live Theatre, 13 February), Aberdeen (Citymoves Studio, 14 February), Inverness (Spectrum Centre, 15 February), Glasgow (The Brickhouse, 16 February), Edinburgh (Dance Base, 17 February), Brighton (Venue tbc, 20 February), Cambridge (The Junction, 21 February), Nottingham (Arts Theatre, 22 February), Cardiff (26 February) and Birmingham (27 February).
Book audition places online here.


Talks begin on proposed spending cuts in Aberdeen

2 December 2010

Councillor Martin Greig accepts the petition from protesters
Councillor Martin Greig accepts the petition from protesters

Talks begin today on controversial plans to cut spending in Aberdeen by £127million over five years. Councillors will look at over 750 savings options which would have a direct effect on the way the city’s services are delivered.

The proposals, first revealed in October, include plans to shut the county music service, which is used by thousands of pupils each year. The close of the city’s music school would save the council an estimated £450,000.

Aberdeen’s music service has one of the UK’s highest rates of students enrolled in instrumental tuition, with over 14% of all school pupils also attending the city’s music school.

Grant Bruce, secretary of the Education Institute of Scotland’s Local Association in Aberdeen, has written to all of the city’s councillors to claim that the council had not properly considered the impact of the plans on the 39-strong team of instrumental teachers. Bruce also cautioned against scrapping or privatising the service.

Hundreds of young musicians braved the snow outside Aberdeen Town House on Tuesday to attempt to force the council to rethink the cuts. A petition against the plans, containing 3,260 signatures, was received at the protest by Councillor Martin Greig.

At 1.30pm today, a second protest is to be held outside the Town House by community groups from around the city.

However, it will be impossible to wrap-up any concrete decisions today, as the Scottish Government will not announce the official settlement until 8 December.



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