skip to main content


Music teacher co-operatives and the MU’s role, safeguarding the future – how co-ops work, plus where to find out more information.

Last updated: 28 July 2023

The MU is a member of Co-operatives UK, an umbrella group for the co-operative movement.

The Musicians' Union has been very concerned at the whole scale redundancies of peripatetic teachers by some local authorities. In some of these areas groups of teachers have responded to this by setting up their own organisations to continue delivering instrumental teaching to parents and schools.

These groups operate according to the co-operative principles of democracy, equity, equality, self help, responsibility and solidarity.

The MU has supported the creation of music teacher co-operatives in Newcastle, North East Lincolnshire (Music Lincs), Swindon, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Salisbury, Denbighshire, Isle of Wight and Wrexham, and has advised a number of independent trusts, CICs and private companies, e.g. the Cardiff and Vale Music Service (CAVMS), Cornwall Music Service Trust and the North East Music Foundation (featured in the MU’s publication: Guide to forming a music service trust).

This group (again with MU support) has now formed a secondary co-operative called AIMS - the Association of Independent Music Services.

Safeguarding the future

The teachers in these co-operatives are self employed and voluntarily agree to abide by quality assurance and safeguarding policies, which provide parents and school with confidence that the teaching is delivered to the highest possible standards.

The teachers themselves are fairly rewarded and democratically debate how much of their earnings to give to the running of the co-operatives.

It is for this reason that the MU advocates co-operation since the alternatives, where instrumental teachers have to compete in the open market and also find themselves working for unscrupulous agencies, may result in a less welcome deal for teachers.

Want to know more?

If you are affected by local music service cuts and are interested to know more about co-operatives, then please contact our MU music education team at