School’s move to charge students for GCSE music labelled ‘deeply troubling’
A secondary school in Yorkshire has come under fire for offering GCSE music at a charge of £5 a week.
The move has been described as “shocking and deeply troubling” by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, which is seeking a reversal of the policy and is currently in negotiations with the school. The ISM is concerned that the new policy means only families who can afford to pay will be able to study music.
Bingley Grammar School in West Yorkshire said on its website that the GCSE music qualification could be started at any age, and that the course would be delivered out of normal school hours.
Describing it as specialised teaching, it adds that a “nominal amount” of £5 a week is required per student.
It did not provide a reason why the subject was being taught outside of normal school hours, but said it had been working to “ensure we continue to offer the music GCSE qualification to our students”.
However, the policy has been criticised by ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts, who is also founder of the Bacc for the Future Campaign. The campaign is aimed at saving creative subjects in schools, and calls on the government to scrap the EBacc, which does not currently include the arts.
Annetts said: “With school budgets under pressure and the government excluding music and other creative subjects from major school league tables known as the EBacc, we are seeing a year-on-year drop in the uptake of music in our schools,” she said.
“This new development is shocking and deeply troubling. Music is at risk of becoming the preserve of those who can afford it and the government must act now to ensure it is available to all. We have also written to the school asking for them to reverse their policy which may be in breach of government guidelines,” she added.
Last year, a study showed that uptake of arts subjects at GCSE had hit its lowest point in a decade.