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The Middle Class Coming Together to Stop Music Education Cuts...

Has music education been saved?

.. a government climb-down over proposed cuts to music education funding in schools

The government has backed down over its proposed cuts to music education funding Photo: Christopher Jones
Well, they did it. The combined fury of 134 music organisations, led by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), has saved music education from the full force of the cuts being imposed by a cash-starved government.

The ISM’s petition, mounted in response to the Education Department’s Consultation Document, has won two specific concessions. An extra £17 million has been found for the national network of 123 music hubs,which provide the kind of vital music education services that schools cannot do on their own – providing instruments, setting up ensembles and orchestras and so forth. And the government has backed down from its recommendation that local authorities stop funding music education.

This is undoubtedly good news. That extra £17 million (the government says £18 million, but no-one quite understands their arithmetic), means the total amount spread around the music hubs will rise to £75 million. This will reverse the decline of recent years, which has been steep. In 2012-15, the grant stood at roughly the same amount, around £75 million, but this declined in 2013-14 to £63 million, and in 2014-15 to £58 million, a fall of nearly 23 per cent.

This is a great result. The effect of the climb-down over local authority music funding is less easy to gauge, because authorities have complete discretion over where the cuts to their education budgets will fall. Those cuts are certainly severe. The damage music might have endured next year can be gauged by looking at the cut announced yesterday to the Education Services Grant paid to local authorities. In 2013/14, the ESG stood at £116 per pupil. In 2015/16, this will shrink by a quarter to a mere £87 per pupil. Music will surely suffer from this, to a degree, as will all the other things the ESG funds, from geography field trips to school repairs. But at least the invitation to make music the easy sacrificial lamb has been retracted.

So, the ISM’s campaign succeeded in two of its stated goals. The only failure was to wring from the government the same commitment to long-term stability of funding that David Cameron recently announced for sport. No doubt the ISM will make that the focus of its next campaign.

Here, for once, the well-off were roused for a campaign organised on behalf of the disadvantaged, specifically those parents who can’t afford music lessons and instruments for their children. It offers the heart-warming spectacle of a battle fought and won for a moral principle. People are inclined to mock when you suggest music can bring out the benevolence in human nature, but this campaign has shown it might just be true.  from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/10986437/Has-music-education-been-saved.html

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