Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has today congratulated campaigners across the North East after the Government announced that spending on the school music service would remain at the same level, unlike spending on the Schools Sports Partnership.
But he also warned them not to be taken in by the statement from Education Secretary Michael Gove who claimed spending in the next financial year will be the same as last year. Whilst this one year guarantee will see the same cash spent as in the current year, it represents a substantial cut in real terms as there is no increase to take into account the rising inflation rate.
“On Teesside there was a real worry about the future of the Tees Valley Music Service when we learnt that all full and part-time staff, equivalent to 52 full time posts, had been told their jobs were at risk. Clearly Mr Gove recognised that he was facing another major campaign of opposition as he had with School Sports Partnership and I’m pleased he has had the good sense not to take on teachers, parents and students again at this time.
“But I’d urge the campaigners to be alert and not be taken in. Just as the Health Service is feeling the impact of rising inflation meaning they can deliver less for their money, the same applies to education services including music. This is a real-terms cut. And, there is no guarantee that the funding will be maintained at the same level beyond the end of March next year. The government must provide our schools with certainty and reassure our music students that their service will have a safe future.
Ministers will publish a national plan for music education later in the year. I hope this will ensure that music lessons are accessible to all children, not just the privileged few.”
Cllr Ann McCoy, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, was cautious in her reaction:
“Whilst this is good news in part, there are still considerable pressures on the service and we need to work across Teesside to minimise the impact of this real terms cut and plan for the future”.