HC Deb 09 March 1993 vol 220 cc509-10W
Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what initiatives he will take to enable schools to offer specialist instrumental or vocal music training;

(2) if he will make a statement concerning the impact of the new educational funding methods on school music;

(3) what is his policy concerning school music;

(4) what is his policy concerning music making by (a) school orchestras and (b) school choirs.

Sir Wyn Roberts

We attach great value to the music support services, both for their intrinsic worth and because of their potential to contribute to the delivery of music within the national curriculum and we are anxious to see them continue.

Under the present local management of schools arrangements, local education authorities may hold back and deploy substantial resources centrally in respect of schools which they maintain. We firmly believe that local authorities should delegate more money to schools. To this end, we have required them to delegate a minimum of 85 per cent. of their potential schools budget to schools by April 1993. This will ensure that schools control more of their budgets.

We have not, however, prescribed which services should be delegated and which should be retained centrally. These are primarily matters for individual authorities to consider in consultation with schools within their areas.

There is nothing under the LMS arrangements to prevent LEAs from continuing to provide services such as peripatetic music teaching, where the funding related to these services has been delegated to schools. It is open to LEAs to develop service agreements with their schools, which will regulate the relationship between service providers and schools. Thus once budgets are delegated, schools would be invited to buy back the services they received previously funded directly by their LEA. It will, however, be for the schools themselves to decide whether or not the service is required and whether it is of good quality and provides value for money. Whether they wish to participate in an arrangement will, therefore, determine if that service is to be provided by the LEA.

All maintained schools are obliged to meet the national curriculum requirements in terms of music teaching. It is for schools themselves to determine whether they wish to offer, over and above the requirements of the national curriculum, specialist instrumental or vocal music training and whether to run school orchestras and choirs.

Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what measures he proposes to obtain more specialist teachers capable of developing specific playing and singing skills in high schools in Wales.

Sir Wyn Roberts

I am not aware of any difficulty in meeting the demand for qualified music teachers for secondary schools. All newly qualified teachers should have the skills required to deliver the national curriculum for music, which includes instrumental work and singing.

I am already providing substantial grant aid, £12 million in 1993–94, through the grants for education support and training programme, for LEA programmes aimed at assisting existing teachers to introduce the national curriculum subjects, including music. This should ensure that existing specialist teachers are capable of developing playing and singing skills.

Responsibility for the employment and deployment of individual specialist teachers rests with LEAs and schools which are well placed to decide upon and react to local needs.