The Musicians’ Union (MU) has expressed its dismay at Coventry Council’s decision to make all of its peripatetic music teachers redundant at the end of this academic year and offer them ‘self-employment’ thereafter.
This development will disadvantage students from poorer backgrounds, and will contribute to a growing class divide when it comes to learning an instrument.
Diane Widdison, MU National Organiser for Education & Training, says:
“We are very disappointed with the response of Coventry Council in their proposals for Coventry Performing Arts. They have not engaged meaningfully with the submissions made by the unions on what would have been better models for the service going forward.
"We are concerned about what will happen now to the skilled and experienced workforce and ultimately what the offer will be for pupils to be able to learn a musical instrument at an affordable price.
“We will continue to work with the teachers in Coventry to support them in this difficult time and offer them alternative ways of working as some Local Authorities have done when faced with similar challenging circumstances.”
Stephen Brown, MU Midlands Organiser, says:
“Coventry Council’s proposals for a self-employed model for its music teachers is ill thought through and based on its acceptance of the austerity agenda rather than for good educational reasons.
"It will ultimately lead to a decline in strategically organised music tuition in the city as has happened elsewhere to the detriment of poorer communities. Frankly, it makes a mockery of their plan to bid for city of culture 2021.
"We don’t know what the self-employed rate of pay will be for teachers, nor how the ‘panel' of teachers will actually work, but evidence elsewhere has highlighted the dysfunctional nature of such a system where teacher disengagement is high. There is no incentive for music teachers to work for the re-modelled service, so the MU will be seeking to talk to teachers to see if we can set up an alternative model that values teachers and puts student’s music education, regardless of background, at its heart, unlike the council”.
If you have been affected by this issue, or are a teacher thinking of taking up the offer of self-employment with Coventry City Council, please email Stephen Brown or call 0121 236 4028 for advice and assistance.