Decision is due on music service fund for Walsall

Schools in Walsall look set to keep bankrolling a popular music service that is facing budget cuts.

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Walsall’s School Forum was expected to agree to continue funding the service, run from Forest Arts Centre, at a meeting tonight.

But concerns have been raised over the fact cash will only be paid by some schools and not academies, meaning they will access the service for free. It is recommended tonight to continue supporting the music service at a rate of 97p per pupil but with further work being carried out to find a way to fund it more fairly.

Forest Arts Music Hub, which offers children the chance to take part in festivals, workshops and special events, is set to lose more than £300,000 of funding in the next two years.

The Schools Forum has supplied £38,000 in each of the last two years.

A report to be discussed at tonight’s meeting says: “After discussion with the Education Funding Agency (EFA) it has been agreed that this contribution can continue if Schools Forum is willing to vote it through.”

Maintained schools will be asked to vote, both at primary and secondary level.

But the report states: “It has been raised that by using these funds to support the service and without the music service having a process to charge academies, then academies are getting a service which maintained schools are paying for.

“Maintained primaries recommend continued support music service for 2013/2013 at 97p per pupil, based on there being further work with the music service to determine a better way to fund the service more equitably.”

The music service, based in Hawbush Road, Leamore, helps hundreds of pupils from across the borough who want to learn musical instruments and arts.

It is expected to see its budget cut by £159,673 next year and a further £185,190 in 2014 to 2015.