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Flintshire schools poised to charge for music lessons

MUSICAL youngsters in Flintshire may soon be charged if they want to learn how to play an instrument in school.

Flintshire County Council is proposing introducing a charge of £40 per term for each child wanting to learn to play.

If the plan – revealed at a meeting at County Hall in Mold last week – gets the go-ahead, parents will have to pay £120 for every academic year, as well as extra costs for hiring instruments.

About 2,500 pupils in Flintshire are currently learning a music instrument in school.

County councillor Ian Roberts, the Labour spokesman for education, said he found the proposals ‘absolutely astonishing’.

“It appears that the county’s music services have been singled out for a 30% funding cut,” he said.

“Other non-statutory services have not faced the same level of cuts.

“School music services provide an excellent opportunity for young people in Flintshire, irrespective of their ability to pay.

“It seems to me that this move would be very unfair to children and young people in the county.”

The authority’s executive member for education, Cllr Nigel Steele-Mortimer, said that other Welsh councils expect parents to pay between £60 and £80 a term for tuition.

He added: “This change will start in the new school year in September when parents will be expected to pay £40 per term for the first child and £20 per term for the second and subsequent children.

“There will also be a small charge to cover hire of instruments. Parents of children playing more than one musical instrument will not be expected to pay extra.”

Parents with children in receipt of free school meals will not be expected to pay for the service, Cllr Steele-Mortimer added.

“The position will be reviewed this time next year,” he added.

A council spokesman said: “As with many services, the music service is reviewing its provision in line with the current budget constraints.

“No decision will be made regarding any specific element of the service until the proposals have been fully considered by members.

“The budget will be considered at a meeting of the full county council on March 1.”