PKC Music Service is Under Threat Once Again

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Music Camps and Central Music Groups run by the Perth and Kinross Instrumental Music Service (IMS) could soon be a thing of the past for the 700 or so children who enjoy participating according to groups representing young musicians. At a meeting of the Lifelong Learning Committee on 2 November 2016, £60,000 of cuts were approved to IMS. Proposals include the cessation of the requirement to provide a nurse at Music Camps.

In justification of the latest proposals, PKC’s Director of Education and Children’s Services, Sheena Devlin, wrote to the Hilary Whitaker, President of Perth Youth Orchestra. Mrs Devlin concluded that ‘there is no requirement to have a nurse present at any such residential camp’ and a sick child will simply be ‘taken to hospital if required.’ Mrs Devlin also confirmed that ‘minimum staffing ratios are the basis for all residential camps’.

Responding in support of the existing arrangements, Mrs Whitaker says, “Given the geographical location of the camps and distance from a hospital, any emergency would leave the already stretched staff, who are on duty 24 hours a day, with a real dilemma on their hands. Having no nurse will save the Council £3000.”

“The existing arrangements have proved invaluable over a long period of time, giving families confidence that their child’s medical condition is appropriately supported.”
“Sometimes it is necessary to remind ourselves of what it is we value most about the service.”

“Not content with the £60,000 of cuts which go ahead in April 2017, proposals have been approved to consider further ways to ‘improve and modernise’ the service which will look for a further £15,000 worth of cuts.”

“The main proposal is that instrumental tutors’ current small payment for taking central music groups, in the evenings, would be moved to the Working Time Agreement. Many tutors already work up to double the amount of non-contact time and diluting this further would limit their ability to prepare effectively for lessons and complete important administration tasks. Ultimately, that would mean they would be expected to do Central Groups and evening/overnight work at music camps without pay.”

“Mrs Devlin calls this a good way to ‘review and modernise’ the service. It is insulting that this valuable service is under fire again and it is demeaning to our tutors who work tirelessly to provide a flagship service which includes and encourages many children with additional supports needs. It is a slap in the face.”

“Once again it is our children’s education, through the central groups and camps, that are under threat with proposals being rushed through under our noses. If the working time agreement plans go ahead, the valuable groups and ensembles which underpin a rich musical culture of Perth will be thing of the past.”

Mrs Whitaker adds, “Ironically these proposals come at a time when our young musicians, of all abilities, are working hard to stage their annual concert in aid of ChildLine. The commitment shown by the players and their dedicated tutor staff is remarkable. The funds that will be raised for ChildLine will amount to at least the amount of the proposed cuts that will threaten the future of that event and so many others.”

“Perth as a City of Culture with nothing at its core, shame on you Perth and Kinross Council.”

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