THE HIGH standards of Carmarthenshire’s school music service need to be maintained despite operating at a loss, a council committee has said.

Members of the cross-party education and children scrutiny committee said the service was valued and well thought of.

Councillors had requested a report on the service, which is reliant on income via school service level agreements.

This time last year it was overspending to the tune of around of £210,000, but the figure has dropped by around a quarter since then.

The committee will ask the council’s executive board to continue investing in the service and again offer free extra-curricular sessions to pupils who are eligible for free school meals.

Members also noted the music service’s therapeutic benefits for pupils with special learning needs.

Speaking after the June 6 meeting, committee chairman, councillor Darren Price, said: “We are keen that standards are maintained.”

The council received an £86,000 Welsh Government grant last December to enhance music provision, and a new ensemble was launched as a result -culminating in two concerts at Queen Elizabeth High School, Johnstown.

In addition, new instruments have been bought or repaired, and samba workshops trialled.

New rock and pop ensembles, plus master classes, are due to be established from September.

Council chiefs hope the Carmarthenshire Music Service will have a key role in delivering Wales’s new school curriculum, which gives great emphasis to  expressive arts, from 2022.

However, the service is to lose a woodwind teacher, with another employee set to leave as part of a management restructure.

Last July a choir, wind band and youth jazz orchestra from the county took part in the Music for Youth National Festival regional finals in Birmingham.

Next month Carmarthenshire Youth Orchestra will compete in the annual event – and next year the senior orchestra will perform at concerts in New York.

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