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Bum note for music teachers

Media Release
20 May 2008
Bum note for music teachers

The Government has struck a bum note with teachers involved in an iconic secondary school music programme.

Fifty representatives from throughout the country will be meeting in Wellington on Friday to discuss the future of the Itinerant Teachers of Music (ITM) scheme, which is at risk of collapse because of Ministry neglect.

PPTA president Robin Duff said the Ministry of Education has been systematically siphoning money from the scheme, which involves music teachers traveling to secondary schools around the country to provide instrumental tuition and has been successfully running for more than 50 years.

The ITM scheme has been vital for students who wish to follow a musical career but whose parents do not have the resources for private tuition.

However the scheme ran into difficulties in 2006, when the Ministry withdrew funding for travel between schools. The ITMs are attached to a number of host schools and those schools had been receiving funding for the past 10 years.

Now schools receiving tuition through the scheme are being asked to provide extra staffing money to make up for the shortfall and there are fears that schools will withdraw from the programme because of the added costs.

$600,000 has been diverted from the ITM programme and used to set up an artist-in-residence scheme launched by the Government last week.

The Government trumpets this new proposal without acknowledging that it’s come at the cost of music provision in secondary schools.
Students are to be deprived of proper musical tuition by a government that purports to be a supporter of the arts.

“Many well-known New Zealand musicians have had their start in the ITM scheme, and the Government’s apparent abandonment of it will cause concern throughout the music community,” Mr Duff said.

The ITM scheme was set up in 1942 as part of the vision of a “generous and well-balanced education.” Mr Duff wants to know why this vision has been jettisoned.

The aim of the meeting will be to try to find out why the Ministry has decided that it’s no longer interested in supporting school music and what consultation it has undertaken with the public on the decision.

“We suspect there is some sleight of hand going on from unelected Ministry officials and we want the Minister to call them to account,” Mr Duff said.


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