English county gets rid of music teachers

English county gets rid of music teachers


norman lebrecht

September 12, 2014

It is reported that Cornwall, probably the poorest part of England and certainly the most beautiful, has decided to sack all of its music teachers. They will be employed as and when required on a freelance basis.

What kind of living is that?





  • Matt B says:

    This is a shame – having worked for Music Cornwall for a year they are/were one of the more pro-active and positive Music Services, offering a lot of support and training to their teachers.

    There were a number of staff meetings and proposals put forward to the Council too with possibilities to make the service more cost-effective, but given the council’s huge deficit it’s not a surprise they went for the cheapest option.

  • Peter Bassano says:

    George Lloyd, perhaps the most popular British composer of the 80s and 90s until his death in 1998, was a Cornishman, who, as a boy learned to play the violin and cornet in Cornwall. Simon Dobson, the up and coming young composer, who in 2012 won British Composer of the Year Award (Brass Band/Wind Band), BASCA (born in 1981) was also taught to play in Cornwall. Had the decision to sack the county’s music teachers been taken a century ago, it is unlikely that either of these creative Cornishmen would have found their ‘voice’. This decision is a tragedy for Cornish music and should be reconsidered.

  • Steve says:

    The reports are true. But we have a plan – the phoenix will rise. And behind the scenes, the council is supporting a pragmatic solution to a national problem at the heart of music education – how to provide an inclusive music education for all in the face of brutal cuts in funding. Cuts in direct funding from the DfE to music services (with Standards Funds replaced by reduced amounts for music hubs), and cuts in govt funding to councils (where many jobs and services are being axed, including music). I believe we are a symptom of a much bigger problem – national austerity measures that increase the gap between rich and poor, and pay no heed to the cultural consequences.

    But having faced the reality of redundancy, we’ve had amazing support from the Musicians Union in looking at alternative music service models. Almost every other music service in the country has had to go through a similar problem, where the old model of having Teachers Pay and Conditions hasn’t been financially viable in the current climate. Some music services have thrived, and some haven’t. The MU has worked with most of them in trying to get a balance between giving the best music education and having the best pay and conditions for staff possible in the current climate. Having taken heed of the MU’s experience and advice, we’re confident that the new Cornwall Music Service Trust will launch in January with teachers employed on a far better basis than the news reports suggest.

    And what is heartening is how many teachers care enough about music education that they’re willing to put their all into setting up and running a music service themselves, even if it means a pay cut. Such are the times we live in. Change is painful, but equally, its a chance to create a new music service more able to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of music education.

  • Nick says:

    That’s not surprising to see in GB. Just look at how it treats orchestra musicians. low wages and crazy work load…

  • Musicmentor says:

    As a member of staff, it would have been nice have been involved in setting up this new trust..instead it has been formulated by a few people in complete secrecy.. the only information gleaned about it is piecemeal in the press..I have read here that I will have a pay cut and changes to my conditions…what are these changes, it would have been nice to have been able to have had an input in these plans. I have heard about support from the council..surely the council should offer support to any service that is starting if it offers it to just one

  • Without music, art and culture what is the point of us existing as a human race? To deny the young, upcoming generations the opportunity to learn about and appreciate music is just plain wrong. Cornwall County Council should be ashamed.

  • maxstanford says:

    As a former member of the Leicestershire youth orchestra 1960s I hang my head in despair.
    Change of government needed first. Make no mistake who is to blame. Get rid of the privatisers

  • Steve says:

    @MusicMentor – What I said was gleaned from the local press too. I’m glad that there are plans afoot. No doubt staff will be involved in shaping it – a service only has a future if high quality teachers want to work for it!
    When I mentioned pay cuts I was talking about the national picture (I don’t know about Cornwall). In other parts of the country staff have refused to let a service go under, even when axed by their Council. Its the belief in the benefits of music education, and of working together as a service, that has also driven others to set up new services together (even if their wages were lower) rather than fragmenting into an everyone-for-themselves privatised free-for-all. One recent example of a staff-led service is Milton Keynes Music Cooperative. Whatever the financial and political interests behind successive governments’ privatisation of education they can’t quell the resilience of people driven by what they believe in.