Response to RCT Council school music service cuts consultation
Today is the last day for responses to the consultation on proposals to make cuts to the schools music service in RCT.
This is the response submitted by RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats.
As is acknowledged in the report which was presented to Cabinet at the start of this process there are benefits in learning to play an instrument or singing that go beyond what pleasure can be gained from those activities.
It can impact on numeracy and literacy, and make learning generally a more pleasant experience. It also helps build confidence and introduces them to a world outside the confines of their home and local area.
This has indeed been recognised by the Welsh Labour Government on numerous occasions recently.
Taking questions following a Statement in the Assembly Chamber on 11th November the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said
"It is worth recognising that local authorities need to recognise the importance of cultural facilities that serve our communities. Councils must look in detail at alternative and often innovative delivery models."
During Minister's Questions on 19th November 2014 Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills spoke of excellent practice in some Welsh schools in relation to music and said that
"I have visited one of those schools and been exposed to the transformational power that not just listening to music, but making music, has on young minds, most particularly those young people from deprived backgrounds."
On 15 December 2014 the Education Minister issued a Written Statement announcing the Schools Challenge Cymru 'Pupil Offer.' The Statement included the following:
"All children can achieve and this is something that I personally hold true. We must inspire them to succeed by providing experiences that open their eyes to the opportunities that exist beyond the school gates, their homes and their local communities.
In the spirit of encouraging this…, I am asking Pathways to Success schools to look closely at their communities of learners and to begin piloting approaches that widen their horizons, creating opportunities to experience meaningful activities that they might not otherwise have been able to access."
So on the one hand we have the Welsh Government encouraging more cultural opportunities and on the other RCT Cabinet looking to take them away.
We do appreciate the financial reality that this Council is facing, and thatthis Council has to cut costs and make savings but music and the Arts generally are an important part of school life and we cannot let them disappear.
We are aware that there have been discussions going on amongst those in the music teaching profession within RCT and that several suggestions will be coming forward from them. We urge the Cabinet to take a serious look at those proposals.
The service as it stands is patchy and does not provide a level playing field across the County. It is in need of review, and there will undoubtedly be ways of saving money that fall short of the removal of the service, thus enabling music education to continue and ensuring the prudent use of taxpayers' money.
AberdareOnline would add
Consultation on the Music and Nursery Service Change Proposals now closes 5pm on the 30th January 2015.