Fight is on to save free music tuition in Flintshire schools

Reporter:

Andrew Boyd

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to ensure young musicians continue to receive free tuition.

Members of Flintshire Youth Music Service have reacted angrily to news that Flintshire Council is proposing to charge children for musical tuition in school.

A petition containing hundreds of signatures is due to be handed over at the authority’s executive meeting today in an attempt to avert the charges being introduced as part of the county’s budget for 2011-12.

Christopher Phillips, secretary of the Friends of Flintshire Youth Music Service, said: “We are deeply concerned about how these changes are going to impact on the pupils who receive lessons from the music service and also those that attend the county orchestras.

“In particular, we are concerned that many parents will not be able to afford to pay these fees, resulting in their child or children pulling out of music tuition altogether.

“This will inevitably mean that schools and the county could potentially lose some of their most talented and gifted musicians.”

Mr Phillips also fears staff could lose their jobs as a result of the changes.

He added: “If staffing levels are reduced, this will result in the loss of highly specialised staff which is likely to mean some pupils will not be able to continue with tuition in their chosen instrument or voice.”

The proposals, which carry a provisional charge of £120 per year, would affect about 2,500 children who use the service.

It is anticipated concessions would be granted to parents whose children are entitled to free school meals or who have more than one child receiving musical tuition.

Also campaigning against the proposals are The Friends of Flintshire Youth Music.

A spokesman said: “We would like to state that we find these cuts completely unacceptable. Music is an academic subject and is a career pathway for many young people. In order for pupils to achieve their maximum potential, they need to be proficient in their chosen instrument (including voice).

“For most children, we strongly fear that this will not be possible if peripatetic music tuition is compromised.”

The proposed changes seek to generate savings for Flintshire Council as it bids to overcome a shortfall in next year’s budget, although the authority insists no final decision has been made.

Last month Flintshire’s lifelong learning overview and scrutiny committee voted in favour of the issue being referred back to the executive after several councillors voiced their opposition.

See full story in the Leader

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