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Andrew Lloyd Webber speaks out against school’s charge for music GCSE

Andrew Lloyd Webber said: "The arts have never been as vital as they are today". Photo: Nathan Johnson Andrew Lloyd Webber. Photo: Nathan Johnson
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Andrew Lloyd Webber has called for arts subjects in schools to be taught free of charge, after it emerged pupils in Yorkshire are paying £5 a week to take GCSE music.

Bingley Grammar School, in West Yorkshire, is offering GCSE music to students for £5 a week, outside of its normal hours.

The move has already prompted an angry response from the Incorporated Society of Musicians, which has claimed that fees for studying the arts will exclude pupils whose families cannot afford to pay.

Lloyd Webber has now joined the debate, stating arts subjects should be taught for free.

“I am a passionate believer in the importance of the arts in schools, particularly music, which transcends all languages, shades of politics, race and creeds,” he told The Stage.

He added: “In our increasingly dangerous and fractured world, the arts have never been as vital as they are today and they should be free.”

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the ISM, 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.”

The DfE did not respond to a request for a comment.

Bingley Grammar School did not provide a response to The Stage when contacted, but told the BBC the introduction of the “nominal” charge was “nothing to do with funding”. The school said it could now offer students an “extra GCSE at a time that suits them”.