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Number of school music tutors could be cut and lesson fees will increase

PUBLISHED: 12:47 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:34 26 February 2020

Norfolk County Council's music service faces cuts. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Norfolk County Council's music service faces cuts. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2016

The number of tutors teaching music in Norfolk’s schools could be cut - and parents could have to pay more for their children to learn instruments.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

But Norfolk County Council says it needs to transform its music service because it is running at a loss - set to be £700,000 this year.

The council is proposing to cut the number of tutors from 46 (34.6 full time equivalents) to 21, with the tutors who keep their jobs expected to teach multiple instruments, rather than specialising in one.

The council says the service has run at a "substantial" loss over the past two years, due to "unsustainably low" tuition fees, "significant" travel costs and increased staffing costs.

So they are proposing to make changes which see tutors teach more than one instrument and work in specific parts of the county.

More than 270 schools make use of the music tutors for one-to-one instrumental tuition for pupils.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: "We have a fantastic music service in Norfolk and we want to make sure that continues, so that our children can enjoy the many benefits of learning an instrument - just as my own children did.

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"These changes will mean that the service can continue and schools will still be able to get the service they receive from us.

"However, we have to make some changes, reduce travel times and maximise teaching time, so that we make the best use of the money we have."

The cost of tuition would also increase from £34 per hour to £40 per hour, to meet the cost of providing the service.

But Chris Snudden, director for learning and inclusion, said there would be a greater focus on group tuition, so the cost would be shared between more children, while it would be free to rent instruments.

The council says that will ensure that small schools and low-income families do not miss out on opportunities because of financial reasons.

Pupils eligible for free school meals will continue to receive subsidised tuition and lessons will be free for children in care.

The council says training would be offered to staff to help them develop their skills, so they can apply for roles in the new model, which would start in September.

Consultation with staff started today.

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