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Controversial proposals to cut Wrexham’s school music service up for scrutiny

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2017.

Controversial proposals to cut Wrexham’s school music service will be up for debate tomorrow in the final budget related meeting of the year.

Members of the Lifelong Learning Committee will scrutinise the plans to axe the service and several other education and school related proposals from 2:30pm on Thursday afternoon.

The meeting features the last of five ‘Difficult Decisions’ related scrutiny reports to be discussed by councillors this month.

Such budget meetings come as a result of calls for further clarity on some of the proposals in the Difficult Decisions consultation, with some criticism over the lack of extensive details in the document.

So far the two budget related scrutiny committees have taken place this month, with a further two due to take place this afternoon. You can read our reports from the meetings here and here.

There are only six ‘Difficult Decisions’ proposals to fall within the remit of the committee – including arguably one of the more controversial suggestions to axe Wrexham Council’s funding of the school music service.

Currently the local authority provides a music service to schools which :includes peripatetic instrument tuition (i.e. tutors visiting different schools), facilitating orchestras and youth choirs to a number of pupils.

However as this service is not a legal requirement, Wrexham Council are proposing the funding is withdrawn, saving approximately £300,000 in 2019/20.

Details within the Difficult Decisions document, state: “This saving is due to be implemented with effect from September 2018 to ensure full realisation of the savings in the 2019-20 financial year.

“Should the proposal proceed the department will explore options for an alternative delivery model. However, the authority would not be funding the tuition.”

In October 2017 a petition opposing the proposed service cut was launched, with over 15,000 pledging their support to ‘save Wrexham’s music services’.

Another proposal put forward is the amount of money allocated to schools for the next two years is frozen.

Wrexham Council say: “For a number of years the council has protected school budgets as per Welsh Government requirements. This included providing an additional £1.2m for the 2017- 18 financial year.

“Pressures on the council determine that this approach is not sustainable and therefore schools will be expected to meet growth pressures such as pay, NI and Pension costs from a standstill
delegated budget (taking into account variations due to pupil numbers.)”

Other proposals up for discussion include reshaping the education enrichment and intervention services, ceasing transition budget to Schools Transition Cymru schools, maximising the use of grant funding and looking at driving more surpluses from iTEC.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 21st December at 2:30pm. The meeting will not be webcast, however those interested in listening to the discussion can sit in the public gallery.

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