Will becoming an Academy mean the death of music in schools ?

Talking to a Music specialist primary school teacher recently, it transpires that, from today, the school at which they teach is becoming an ‘academy.’ What this means in real terms for music provision at the school, is that the school will now have to pay for all the instruments it uses, which previously it had borrowed from its local music advisory service.

shockedNow, at a rough cost of £30 per instrument (such as a cornet or violin – other ‘instruments’ like the ocarina or recorder are in a bundle-package), for a class of thirty children, that’s £900 per year simply to hire them. The school will receive a one-off lump sum as part of its move to academy-status, but with close to £1,000 per year to hire instruments, that’s not going to last long. And with other areas in school – IT provision, real estate up-keep, resources – all clamouring for funding, using funds to hire musical instruments is not going to be high on the list of priorities. (And I appreciate that it’s unlikely that a school will require an entire class-full of cornets or violins – breaking them up across the numbers required throughout the school, though, yields an approximate number).

It seems counter-productive, nay, let’s pull no punches here, totally stupid, that developing a school’s status should in fact lead to its no longer being able to deliver a part of its curriculum.

As of today, therefore, all the instruments will be being boxed up in order to return to the county music service. The opportunity for young children to access instruments to start to learn will be lost, as will the Wider Opportunities aspect to curriculum delivery. The school could, of course,  pass on the cost of instrument hire to the parents,  but with many of them low-income families, with priorities of their own, that’s not going to help.

I wonder if other primary-turned-academy schools are in a similar situation.

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