The National Education Union (NEU) has announced that Stuart Gallimore, Director of Children’s Services for East Sussex County Council, is proposing to close East Sussex Music Service (ESMS) by 2019, resulting in the loss of music provision for thousands of children and jobs for teachers and administrative staff.
Having failed to find suitable funding or make the £80,000 cuts required, Stuart Gallimore will be asking Councillor Bob Stanley, Lead member for Education and Inclusion, Special Educational Needs and Disability, to single-handedly make the decision re whether or not to close the service on 30 April 2018.
The NEU is suggesting that alternative proposals should be sought – with a petition to halt the decision available here.
Currently in its 84th year, East Sussex Music Service delivers music lessons to around 7,000 children in schools and nearly 1,000 children in its area music centres each week.
Former pupil and Trinity Laban music student, Darryl, said:
‘East Sussex Music Service changed my life, I came from a background of violence and drug abuse and had zero social skills, zero prospects, no passion for anything until I started learning the clarinet… Those weekly lessons became the focal point of my life for such a long time I don’t know who I would be without them. And now I can use the skills I learnt to create my own music, make my own path in life and really have options. I can choose to live, because ESMS gave me a life, friends, a goal and something to look forward to in an otherwise difficult and confusing time of my life.’
Former pupil, Stephen, said:
‘Arriving at Secondary school as a lonely misfit child, ESMS gave me so much more than just some lessons but also a chance to play in many ensembles and orchestras, finding friends that I couldn’t at school, building skills that I can now enjoy for the rest of my life.’
Diane Widdison, National Organiser – Education and Training, Musicians’ Union, said:
‘We are very concerned about the future of instrumental tuition in East Sussex if this proposal by the council is confirmed. We will be looking to work with our members who teach for the Music Service and also management to explore options so that the children and young people of East Sussex don’t lose out on being able to access affordable music tuition.
‘We have seen similar situations happening across England as Local Authority cuts begin to take effect on the services they offer. Even though music education hubs have had access to central funds, many also relied on the support of their LA but, unfortunately, this model is increasingly not viable.’