The sound we want to hear;Letter

19th June 1998 at 01:00
The commitment towards instrumental teaching that Education Secretary David Blunkett expresses (TES, May 22) is very encouraging, just what many of us want to hear. I trust that his vision becomes reality very soon. However, many existing organisations seeking to implement this same vision are actually facing extinction as he makes his plans.

The County Music Service in Norfolk, of which I am a member, has expanded through the difficult years under the last government, to the point when 48 full-time equivalent teachers provide more than 1,000 hours tuition per week to nearly 6,000 pupils irrespective of the geographical remoteness of many of the schools.

This is costly, and this year schools have either stopped paying for us or have started passing on the full cost to pupils, thus turning many away.

I could take you to many schoolchildren in Norfolk who have lost their instrumental tuition in recent weeks; to take just one example, one school has gone down this term from 70 pupils to six, and the worst is not over. Even as I write, I understand that the education department is making plans for a drastic reduction in the size of our service.

Our slogan in recent years has been "Hang on until Labour gets in, then things will be better!" - we cannot believe what is now happening.

The only effective answer would seem to be some form of strong lead from central government immediately - either in the shape of extra earmarked funds, or legislation regarding a music policy.

Edward Doe

35 Constitution Hill Norwich Norfolk

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