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Delegation without orchestration

Derbyshire ceased to fund its music service four years ago; Cambridgeshire has theoretically ditched its provision, but has resurrected it in another guise. Music is still being funded in one form or another by the rest of the shires, but provision is patchy, according to the findings of the survey which raised a 74 per cent response rate.

There is a marked trend to delegate the service to schools with nearly half partly allocating funds and one in three holding them centrally. There is no clear north-south divide. Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire councils still hold the purse strings; so do Isle of Wight, East Sussex (at the request of the schools), Shropshire and West Sussex.

Cumbria and Lancashire have totally devolved; so have Essex, Warwickshire and Wiltshire. Cambridgeshire has too, but the schools agreed that the LEA should keep a third of the budget for orchestras, ensembles and bands the rest is bought by schools.

A third of shires have opted for running the service via a business unit. Only one county, Hampshire, has formed a charity, the Foundation for Young Musicians, which sells its services to schools.

Avon and North Yorkshire refuse to trade with grant-maintained schools. Half of the 75 per cent of authorities with GM schools in their area charge them the same rate; four charge more. Only Avon and Humberside do not charge for tuition or instrument hire.

More than a third charged schools for tuition, usually at an hourly rate varying from Pounds 2.50 a lesson in Warwickshire to Pounds 24.50 an hour in Hampshire. Some areas pass the charge on to parents.

Just under 25 per cent charge parents directly. North Yorkshire will begin to charge from September at Pounds 30 a term but poorer families will be on a remission scheme. Humberside will charge schools Pounds 5.50 an hour from September, which can be passed on to parents.

The remainder of the sample use a mixture of charging both parents and schools and the majority have concessionary rates. Cornwall, for example, charges parents Pounds 90 a year and schools Pounds 22.50 an hour.

Most authorities who have music centres charge between Pounds 5 a term to Pounds 40 and between Pounds 7 and Pounds 15 for ensembles. The majority with a stock of instruments charge for either their hire or maintenance, usually between Pounds 5 and Pounds 10, depending on their value.

The survey revealed a surprising increase in staff numbers with nearly half the authorities reporting higher recruitment. But 15 per cent experienced a decline in numbers - Cumbria by 50 per cent - and the rest were stable. Twenty-eight per cent no longer have music advisers or inspectors.

West Sussex, which will begin to charge parents Pounds 28 a term from September, appears to be the most sanguine. David Williams, a general adviser with responsibility for music, said the extra revenue will benefit more schools.

He hopes to take on 20 more people in addition to the current 34 staff in the next four years. "There has been no threats to the service and no cuts. "

But in Cumbria, Ian Potts, head of the music service, is deeply worried. Music is in rapid decline compared to the south, he said.

Another hazard will be the Local Government Review which will affect one in four councils. Martin Gent, manager of the Cambridgeshire Instrumental Music Agency, said the county was in "major limbo" because of the possibility of Peterborough and Huntingdon becoming separate authorities.

Cleveland, which has a "high quality and highly regarded service, probably the strongest in the North East", according to music adviser, John Forsyth, is due to be split into four.

A slight majority of respondents felt that delegation and GM status had made it more difficult for them to maintain a coherent music policy and many feared their youth orchestras might not exist in five years' time because of the imbalance in instrument teaching.

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