Monday, 9 July 2012

Who pays the piper?

A letter has been sent out from the Jersey Instumental Service. I believe it has gone to parents of pupils who currently use the service, but its contents are clearly of impact on future parents too.

 There is to be an 'information evening' on the 12th July at 7pm, Janvarin School. Giving just 3 to 4 days notice and only, as far as I know, to exisitng parents clearly limits the potential for interested parties to attend.

 The essence of the letter is that the States are expected to introduce charges for the service during the autumn term 2012. There is, of course, the usual soft soaping that goes along side such proposals. These include extending the range of instruments and ensembles, and significantly reduced charges for families on low income etc.

 Without numbers it is difficult to make detailed comment, but some observations do need to be made. It is not logically possible to state you may give significant reduction unless the amount you are intending charging as the standard is itself significant.

 Ensuring the financial future of the provision (of the service) is cited as the reason for the charges. However is seems to me extending the range of instuments, number of ensembles and improved support for schools as quoted in the letter is certain to increase costs. It is quite possible that the charges to be levied are actually paying for expansion and improvement of the service. The case will need to be shown with crystal clarity why the current offering would not be financial viable in the future.

There are deficiencies with the current system, not least the fact there seems to be insufficient opportunities to enable all who wouold wish to participate. Currently students do an aptitude test. Needless to say those who have had some previous musical education are at a great advantage. Would this be redressed by the new system?

 Inevitably if there are charges, there will be those on low incomes who will not be able to afford them and whose children therefore will be unable to take up an instrument, even if they do have some significant natural ability or aptitude.

 The most likely outcome of these proposals is that the poorest will be excluded while those who can afford it get a better service. A classic Jersey 'solution'.

 People who have concerns about the proposals are invited in the letter to contact the Head of Jersey Instrumental Music Service (Dr Graham Cox) on 832230.

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