Newham Council seeks to cancel Every Child a Musician

Concerns have been raised over a consultation launched by the London Borough of Newham Council, which is seeking to cancel its Every Child programme.

The discretionary programme has four elements:

  • Every Child a Musician
  • Every Child a Theatre Goer
  • Every Child a Sports Person
  • Every Child a Chess Player

About Every Child a Musician

Launched in 2010, Every Child a Musician recognised that children and young people from poorer backgrounds in Newham were unable to afford music lessons.

The previous Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, acknowledged that there was a growing inequality between children from wealthier families who were fortunate enough to be able to access private music tuition and those from less privileged backgrounds who were less able to do so, saying:

‘The middle classes do it for their kids. Why shouldn’t we do it for all our kids? Music should be about access for all — not only those who can afford it.’

£14.5m savings needed says Newham Council

However, due to reductions in central government funding, the current Council now has to find £14.5m savings in the year 2019/20, rising to £27m by 2022.

With increased local pressures for services such as children and adult social care, the Council proposes to cease the Every Child programme and its funding in its current form from September 2019, saying about Every Child a Musician:

‘We have reviewed the evidence of the impact of Every Child a Musician, which costs £9 in every £10 spent on the entire Every Child programme.

‘Previous research has highlighted that, although stakeholders were positive about their experiences and could highlight positive impacts it had at individual, school and family levels, there did not appear to be any link to wider educational achievement by our children. The Council does of course recognise the value of engagement in music in its own right.

‘Children’s academic achievements are not linked to their levels of instrumental learning’

‘In the research, a comparison between instrumental learning and Key Stage 2 assessment data for Year 6 pupils found children’s academic achievements are not linked to their levels of instrumental learning. There was also no significant relationship observed between Every Child a Musician progress and children’s wider sense of happiness and wellbeing.

‘There are positives to Every Child a Musician but it is our view that the current design of the programme does not fully meet our aims for music provision. It is for this reason, combined with the Council’s need to make savings and fund other priorities, that we are consulting on the proposals in this document.

‘The other three programmes represent a small proportion of the overall Every Child budget and do not all offer a universal service to every child in Newham. We will consider with stakeholders how these programmes should be taken forward as part of a new service offer.’

‘Reconsider the scrapping of this key programme’ says MU

Responding to news of the consultation, Horace Trubridge, General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, said:

‘Newham Council claims its aspiration is that every child and young person in the borough should have the opportunity to discover and develop their talents, to achieve personal growth and excellence plus have access to a rich variety of cultural and creative experiences.

‘Yet there seems to be a political willingness to scrap a programme that is designed to do the very thing the Council claims it wants to support.

‘The real losers in this scenario are the very people that Newham Council claim they want to help – namely, the kids from poorer backgrounds. We are calling on Mayor Fiaz and Newham Council to immediately reconsider the scrapping of this key programme.’

To read the Every Child Programme Consultation on the Newham Council website, please click here.

Header photo: Every Child a Musician is a Newham Council Mayoral priority programme which provides free musical tuition and instruments for children in Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 in Newham’s Primary schools © Newham London

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