Council responds to parents concerns about the future of Hull Music Service

Hull City Council has responded to the concerns of parents following the release of a statement from the St Cuthbert’s Trust – Music and Arts Academy referencing its intent to work with unspecified partners to establish an alternative music service to that presently provided by the Hull Music Service.

The statement from St. Cuthbert’s, released on the St. Mary’s College website, says that it has recently engaged the services of music and peripatetic teachers, some of whom, it is implied, are currently employed by the Hull Music Service.

It appears to be an attempt to respond to concerns raised by parents in relation to such a proposal and implies that St Cuthbert’s is subsidising city music education provision in the city. It also says that the Hull Music Service is not meeting required standards on inclusion and that it is saving costs by cutting provision.

A Council spokesperson, said: “The Council strongly refutes these claims and has clear evidence to support this.

“We were surprised to learn of the publication of the statement and to see that it includes a suggestion that as the local authority we are working with St. Cuthbert’s on the proposals when this is categorically not the case.

“It’s important to say that we have received no concerns or complaints about the Hull Music Service from St. Cuthbert’s and that we were not notified in advance of the publication of this statement other than receiving written notice to terminate the service.

“The Hull Music Service has a long and established record of enabling young people, from all areas of the city and all backgrounds, to begin their musical journey at a young age and for many to go on to higher education and into a professional musical career.

“The Council remains committed, as we have been for many years, to protecting funding for this essential service and to offer the best possible access to a musical education to children and young people throughout Hull.

“We are now seeking an urgent meeting with the Bishop of Middlesbrough in order to clarify St. Cuthbert’s position.”

In the meantime, the Council wishes to reassure parents whose children use the Music Service that:

• it remains committed to ensuring that every child in the city, regardless of background, financial situation or any other circumstance affecting access has equal opportunity to engage with music and explore and develop their creativity, and towards which the Hull Music Service has undertaken a wide range of projects across the city;
• contrary to the St. Cuthbert’s statement, the Council has not cut funding to the Hull Music Service over recent years. Despite an unprecedented period of austerity, funding for the service has, in fact, been protected in recognition of its position as a jewel in the crown of the city’s music provision;
• St Cuthbert’s does not subsidise music provision for the rest of the city, they pay for the services they use for their students at rates which offer value for money and are below comparator rates elsewhere as the service is subsidised by Hull City Council and Arts Council England;
• Arts Council England’s latest annual feedback letter to the Hull Music Service, issued in December 2017, states that the service “continues to engage effectively with schools, reaching 89.8 per cent of all schools in the city … delivering or supporting whole class ensemble tuition to 63.3 per cent of schools against a national average 49.6 per cent, supporting 84.7 per cent of schools via their School Music Education Plan against a national average 77.6 per cent and supporting singing strategies to 77.6 per cent against a national average of 70.9 per cent.”