Music tuition cuts a 'systematic attack on education'

Violin Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Several councils have been reviewing the way they fund music tuition in schools

More parents in Conwy face paying for children's music tuition in schools as the council plans an 80% budget cut.

Schools will lose the £327,000 delegated budget for the service, with £61,000 left to fund free tuition for pupils eligible for free school meals.

Councillor Julie Fallon, cabinet member for education, said cuts were "regrettable" but claimed the new system would be fairer.

Opposition councillors have vowed to fight the changes.

A report to Conwy's education committee said some schools currently did not have funding for music tuition, while others had sums which "does not reflect the individual school need in relation to pupil numbers or deprivation".

A consultation with schools in the county showed they were evenly split between those in favour of the change and those who preferred the status quo.

Councillor Fallon said: "It is clear from the report that there is inequality in the way the budget is currently delegated and that there is inconsistency in the charges made by schools for music tuition.

"This is an opportunity to make a saving and to make the charging for music tuition in schools more transparent."

The report also warned that a risk of the changes could mean that families on low income who do not qualify for free school meals could be discouraged from paying for lessons for their children.

The Labour group leader, Councillor Chris Hughes, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service his party would "oppose this systematic attack on the education of our children".

"Music is a vital part of any school curriculum, and of the local economy," he said.

"For many young people music and the arts is their doorway to a wider learning experience."

Councillor Wyn Ellis Jones, who leads the Plaid Cymru group, added: "I know it is a difficult time for local authorities, but many families benefit from the service provided by the council who couldn't afford to fund private lessons.

"I think it is essential that we do everything we can to safeguard the service."

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