The MIA’s Paul McManus met with the Department for Education last week to discuss how instrument provision for schools could be improved in the future.
The Government has agreed to develop a future procurement strategy for musical instruments and the meeting explored the pros and cons of the current system. The meeting covered topics such as:
• The principle of suppliers supplying shops and shops supplying schools.
• The highly competitive pricing involved in supplying schools and Local Authorities.
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• The need to arrive at criteria for schools/Local Authorities on suitable, quality instruments that are fit for purpose for school children.
• The variances in the quality of instruments that are sometimes purchased by Local Authorities overly consumed with saving money in the short term.
• The inevitable consequences of such purchasing decisions (broken instruments, children thinking they are not musical, local shops unable to repair etc).
• The cumbersome tendering process.
The disconnect between many local shops (who did not get the tender to supply) and their local schools.
• The need for local music shops to be better engaged with the care and maintenance of the local school/Music Service instruments.
• The dangers of Music Services becoming commercial enterprises for supplying musical instruments.
• The inconsistent application of the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (vat-free instrument scheme for children).
• The need for the Government-funded “Take it Away” scheme to review funding for school age children.
• The haziness in how the list of “recommended local music shops” list is sometimes arrived at.
The procurement team is keen to make recommendations as soon as possible and the MIA has encouraged its members – especially local authorities and music services – to contact McManus on any of the above topics.
McManus can be contacted at this email address.