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Music in Essex is thriving

Your article "Music tuition charges may be illegal" highlighted concerns following the delegation of money for music services last year into school budgets from a budget that had previously been held centrally by Essex County Council. Since then schools have been able to buy back the service from either their local education authority or any other provider.

Contrary to one statement in the article, Essex LEA continues to offer music services to schools, although it is inevitable that when money is delegated equitably on a formula basis some schools will gain while others will not. At least the process has extended to all schools the opportunity to have access to the county's highly regarded music service.

The responsibility for determining a charging policy for music tuition moved, with delegation, into the hands of governors. We wrote on March 14 to the chairman of governors of the Manningtree School quoting the Department for Education Circular 289 that charging for tuition on a GCSE course is not permitted whether within or outside school hours. We shall be issuing appropriate guidance to all Essex locally-managed schools.

To end on a very positive note, Essex County Council's music service has not only survived but thrived both during and since delegation in April 1994.

Since the costs were delegated there has been a 15 per cent increase in the number of hours of tuition that our music service provides to schools.

JOHN HARRIS, manager

Essex community education service Essex County Council

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