THERE is no option but to change how schools provide music services with further cuts to regional education funding expected, councillors have been told.
Ceredigion County Council’s cabinet discussed the plans to change how music services are provided in the county – with the loss of two jobs – in order to make half a million pounds of cuts in the schools service.
Feedback from a learning communities overview and scrutiny committee earlier this month was given by Cllr Peter Davies who highlighted that the music service was “successful and respected.”
“Members expressed disappointment that it was necessary to change the service provision,” he added.
The committee wanted cabinet to give “due consideration” to the service and have further discussions with those involved before exploring all options.
However, council leader Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn said it was an “internal staffing decision following the decision of the council that we had to save £6million this year.”
She said that officers had to work with the budgets they had and deal with Welsh Government cuts to grants – for example in the foundation phase and sixth form services.
Cllr ap Gwynn said that 24 teaching assistant posts had been lost due to the cuts.
When it came to music “in order to maintain and sustain this service we need to do it in a different manner, we have to live within our means,” she added.
Another threat to education services was a £300,000 cut to the regional education consortium ERW which council chief executive Eifion Evans said he was told of on Monday (May 20).
Mr Evans said the impact on Ceredgion schools is not yet known and “officers from all six authorities and the ERW central team will be evaluating the situation over the coming weeks,” a council spokesman added.
ERW was funded around £69million for 2018-19 for school improvement services across six local authorities in the south west and mid Wales area.
Cllr Ceredig Davies argued that more detail of what the budget decisions would mean should have been provided earlier and Cllr Keith Evans added it was a lesson for councillors to ensure more questions were asked in future.
The new music service will allow pupils to continue to access tuition for a variety of instruments, as well as ensembles, orchestras and choirs.
Pupils receiving free school meals, or taking music GCSE or A level, will have free lessons while any money generated from lesson charges will be kept by the music service.