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Consultation over music service cuts put on hold due to coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 12:14 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 02 April 2020

Emily Crook  started an online petition to save the Norfolk County Music Service. Pic: Sonya Duncan

Emily Crook started an online petition to save the Norfolk County Music Service. Pic: Sonya Duncan

Archant 2020

A consultation over whether to cut the number of music tutors who teach in Norfolk’s schools has been put on hold.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council had launched the consultation over the future of its music service in February.

The council said it needs to transform the service because it was running at a loss - set to be £700,000 this year.

The authority was proposing to cut the number of tutors from 46 (34.6 full time equivalents) to 21, with the tutors who kept their jobs expected to teach multiple instruments, rather than specialising in one.

The council said the service has run at a “substantial” loss over the past two years, due to “unsustainably low” tuition fees, “significant” travel costs and increased staffing costs.

There were proposing to make changes - to come in this September, but the proposal had met with angry opposition.

Thousands of people had signed a petition urging the county council not to make the changes.

The petition, set up by clarinetist and Notre Dame High School A-level student Emily Crook, 17, has been signed by more than 8,000 people.

However, the ongoing situation with coronavirus means the consultation has now been put on ice.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Given the current unprecedented circumstances the decision has been taken to pause the restructure of the music service.

“Staff across children’s services and the county’s schools are currently working around the clock to support the national effort to tackle the crisis and to support Norfolk communities.

“In these circumstances we cannot give this work the time and support it needs and have therefore decided to postpone until further notice.”

More than 270 schools make use of the music tutors for one-to-one instrumental tuition for pupils.

If the proposals did go ahead, the cost of tuition would also increase from £34 per hour to £40 per hour.

Pupils eligible for free school meals would continue to receive subsidised tuition and lessons would be free for children in care.

The council had said training would be offered to staff to help them develop their skills, so they could apply for roles in the new model,

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