Members of Cornwall Council’s cabinet have given the go ahead to a proposal which will see music teaching in schools in Cornwall delivered in a “different way” in the future.
A council spokesman said: “Over the past few months the authority has reviewed a number of different options to set up a sustainable cost neutral model which will enable schools to continue to access music tuition, including an improved in house model. “However, following a discussion at the children and young people portfolio advisory committee in March it was agreed the only sustainable long term option was a brokerage model.”
Under this model music teachers would move from being directly employed by the Council to being self employed and registered with the Council as approved to provide music tuition.
The Music Tuition service is one of three strands of the wider Cornwall Music Service, which is part of Cornwall Learning. The remaining two strands – Music Hub and the music therapy service - are not affected by this decision.
The Music Tuition service employs 70 music teachers who provide music education and instrumental and vocal tuition to schools throughout Cornwall. Under the current model schools and parents are charged £39 per hour for lessons, which the authority says is higher than many other providers. A spokesman for the council said that although the service was originally set up to be cost neutral, it has not generated enough income to meet its costs, “resulting in the Council being forced to provide an annual subsidy to enable the service to continue”.
This service has had an over spend of over £450,000 for the last two years, and as this is a cost neutral service, this overspend must be addressed to enable the Council to meet its budget.
With cuts of £196 m in Government funding expected over the next five years Andrew Wallis, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said that the scale of the financial situation now facing the authority meant they could no longer afford to subsidise the service.
“While I understand the importance of music to children and schools, the Council cannot go on subsiding this service without cutting other services we provide to children and young people in Cornwall “he said.
“This model is financially sustainable and, if there is sufficient take up from music tutors and schools, will continue to provide access to music tuition across Cornwall” said Andrew Wallis. “It will also be open to all suitable music teachers, which may increase the range of tutors available to schools and parents. “ The council will now consult formally with staff and unions with a view to implementing the new brokerage model by January 1, 2015. Some staff had previously offered to discuss making changes to their terms and conditions as an alternative to setting up a brokerage option. Members also agreed that any proposals which came forward as a result of the formal negotiations which were found to be financially and legally sound would be brought back to the Cabinet for further consideration.