Wakefield’s music service staff feel‘betrayed’

Kids from schools across the district rehearsing for sing to the top - a musical written by wakefield music services.

Kids from schools across the district rehearsing for sing to the top - a musical written by wakefield music services.

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‘INSULTED’ and ‘betrayed’ is how staff from the city’s music service are feeling after they were told they could soon no longer be contracted as qualified teachers.

Union officials have accused council bosses of treating teachers from the Wakefield Music Service as ‘second class citizens,’ and have vowed to fight the proposals, which they refuse to believe are legal.

Staff were told last Thursday that they could lose their qualified teacher status because of budget cuts.

One member of staff, who did not wish to be named, said: “This would mean pay cuts of thousands of pounds for people who have spent years training to get their qualifications, only to be put on instructor rates of pay.

“It’s a total disgrace. You wouldn’t expect qualified doctors or electricians to be paid any less. We feel insulted and betrayed.”

The Wakefield Music Service provides music tuition in schools and music centres. It is also responsible for popular events like the Sing to the Top musical that is performed by hundreds of children at Theatre Royal Wakefield each year.

Staff and union officials say music education in Wakefield will suffer.

Morris Stemp, regional organiser for the Musicians’ Union, said: “There is no reason why someone who is an instrumental teacher should be classed as a second class citizen compared to those who teach what might be classed as more core subjects.

“This will drive good staff away and seems enormously short-sighted.”

If they go ahead, the changes to the contracts would take effect from April next year.

Sally Kincaid, Wakefield branch secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said: “We believe they cannot do it and we are going to do all we can to stop it happening.”

Sue Johnson, service director for schools and lifelong learning for Wakefield Council, said: “Wakefield Music Service relies on a national government grant. In Wakefield, this has been cut by over 55 per cent and therefore we need to review how we can continue to deliver musical tuition and musical opportunities to young people.”

She said the changes were subject to consultation.