Monday, 14 May 2012

Music Under Threat For Hundreds Of Vulnerable Youngsters

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha (LD, Newnham)

Fears that hundreds of schoolchildren could lose their free music lessons following changes to the way they are funded have been expressed by Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats.

Cash-strapped schools across the county could be expected to pick up the bill for music lessons for children in local authority care and those on free school meals.

But the Lib Dems fear that their budgets won’t stretch to the extra expense and are calling on the Tory-run Cambridgeshire County Council to step in and provide the money.

The change comes after the government, which used to send money for music lessons direct to the county council, decided to send it to Art Council England; now organisations across the country must bid for a share.

The newly-formed Cambridgeshire Music Partnership had made a bid for funding to lead the music education service in the county.

But Cambridgeshire Music Service, which provided the money for lessons for the 500 youngsters, is aiming  to become self-funding leaving schools to fund these lessons instead.

Cambridgeshire Lib Dem Deputy Leader, Lucy Nethsingha is worried that the move could lead to youngsters missing out.

She is calling on the county council to provide funding to the Cambridgeshire Music Service during the transitional period while the new changes take effect.

Cllr Nethsingha, who will put a motion to full council tomorrow (Tuesday, May 15) said: “Music can provide a hugely important positive element in the lives of some vulnerable children. It is imperative that we find a way to make sure these children can still have their lessons.

“Educational outcomes for children in care and those on free school meals tend to be worse than average. Music can be one way to improve educational achievement, so it is particularly important that this group of children get access to the educational benefits music lessons can bring.”

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, who played in the Cambridgeshire Youth Orchestra said: “Music has been a big part of my life and all children regardless of their background or circumstances should have this chance.

"Music gives young people the opportunity to socialise, meet new friends and it has been proved that children who take part in music do better at school. I hope the county council can find a way to fund these lessons.”