Chalk Talk: Musicians - now it's your turn to make a stand against the cuts
Thursday 06 January 2011
The message to emerge from the Department for Education over the Christmas break appears to be one that resistance to the scale of public spending cuts may not be futile after all.
Just before Christmas, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced a partial U-turn over the funding of school sport. Originally, all the funding earmarked for school sports partnership was to be axed – provoking an outcry from former Olympic athletes who wondered what kind of message this sent about our commitment to sport in the run-up to the 2012 games.
Then the charity Booktrust was told that all its funding (worth £13million) for imaginative schemes, such as the provision of books to parents of newborn babies in a bid to encourage reading habits at home, was to be axed.
There was an outcry from authors, poets and opposition MPs as Philip Pullman, Sir Andrew Motion and Labour party leader Ed Miliband combined to condemn the scheme.
Now it emerges that discussions are taking place over an alternative scheme aimed at concentrating resources on areas where they are most needed.
The latest threat to emerge is over music education, which faces the quadruple whammy of cuts in local authority funding, the ending of its ring-fenced government grant in March, higher fees for would-be music teachers at university and a downgrading of the subject in headteachers' eyes as it becomes ineligible as a subject for the Coalition Government's new English baccalaureate.
Time, methinks, for celebrated musicians to get up in arms and complain about the threat so that it can be rectified at least partially with the publication of the Government's review of music education – chaired by Classic FM boss Darren Henley later on this month.
Raise a glass, if you can still afford it, to the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and the National Foundation for Educational Research, for their efforts in the run-up.
As far as I can ascertain, they were the only organisations to host festive drinks gatherings in the run-up to Christmas. No Government department or any of the few remaining quangos would consider such frivolous spending in such austere times, of course.
However, it seems that their austerity has been spreading like wildfire. I don't condone frivolous wasting of taxpayers' money, of course, but, as I say, we must be thankful for small mercies.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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