Alex raises concerns about music funding

Thousands of talented young people across Teesside could lose their music lessons following a Government review of grant spending which could see hundreds of thousands of pounds cut from the budget.

And, it could also mean the dole queue for dozens of staff who have already been told their jobs are “at risk”.

Now Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham has written to the Education Secretary Michael Gove seeking reassurances that the funding is safe. And, he and the Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Ann McCoy, have called on children, parents and staff to start campaigning now to put pressure on the Government to try and save the area’s music service.

Nearly 11,000 young people across the four Teesside authorities are served by the music service – many learning in small groups or whole classes and many of them playing in ensembles. The team of full and part time staff – equivalent to 52 full time posts – have already been told that their jobs are “at risk” due to the uncertainty over the funding.

The authorities have a music budget of some £2.4 million with around £700,000 being raised from fees charged to parents – and their share could rocket if the funding is, as expected, cut.

The Government are undertaking a full review of school music funding. The Henley Review, led by the head of Classic FM Darren Hedley, is due to report at the end of this month.

“We have already seen the Government back down on axing the School Sports Partnerships in the face of pressure from parents, teachers and sports people. The concessions won were however very limited with only a fraction of the budget restored,” said Alex Cunningham.

“The plans for the music service are not dissimilar to those on sport. The Government is “reviewing” grant funding but we all know that can only mean substantial cuts. It is important that parents and others make their voices heard sooner rather than later and ensure the government doesn’t simply decimate the music service too.”

Cllr McCoy said: “We are tremendously proud of our music service and the young people who learn to play musical instruments some of whom hope for a career in music and the arts. It would be appalling if yet more cuts from the Government meant it could not continue as we know it. This can only place greater pressure on hard working families who would have to find extra cash from their own pockets if they want their children to take up or continue music classes.”