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Fears for the future of New Zealand music

Media Release

Jan 11 2008

Fears for the future of New Zealand music

With the future of an iconic secondary school music program uncertain, the Government needs to put its money where its mouth is, PPTA president Robin Duff says.

Before Christmas Education Minister Chris Carter promised a review of secondary school staffing and a focus on subject excellence – however the year has barely begun and already there are questions surrounding travel funding for the Itinerant Teachers of Music (ITM) scheme.

Mr Duff says the scheme, which involves music teachers traveling to secondary schools around the country to provide instrumental tuition, was vital for schools that did not have the resources to give specialist teaching to students who wished to pursue a musical education.

“Abandoning this scheme is a concern – if the Government was acting in good faith about excellence in subjects and increasing staffing then this would not be happening,” he said.

The ITM scheme has been around since 1945. It ran into difficulties in 2006 when the Ministry withdrew funding for travel between schools. The ITMs are attached to a number of host schools throughout the country and those schools had been receiving travel funding for the past 10 years.

Schools were given a one year reprieve and the promise of a review after 2007 when fears were voiced that schools would withdraw from the scheme because of added costs.

That year is now up and now schools receiving tuition through the scheme are being asked to provide extra staffing money to make up for the shortfall.

With no review in sight and the potential for those schools to pull out of the program, Mr Duff fears for the future of ITM.

“We are facing a shortage of specialist secondary teachers and here we have a government hell bent on stripping resources from the ones we do have left ”.

It is an issue that needed to be looked at closely as part of the promised secondary school staffing review, he said.

“This is one area, along with class size, the Ministry will have to take a serious look at. NCEA depends on all students having access to an individualized program of senior subject options and hobbling the ITM scheme will only hurt those wishing to pursue qualifications in music.

“It astounds me that in a year when the Government has pledged to support New Zealand music, it plans to cut resources for the next generation of musicians.
“The scheme is there to ensure there is a pathway for anyone who wants to study music, not just those who can afford it,” he said.

Mr Duff’s concerns echo a call from National Party MP Katherine Rich to secure the situation and ensure students would not be disadvantaged in 2008.

“A review of the situation was promised after 2007 and we are going to hold the Minister to that,” he said.


ENDS

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