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Remissions policy

St Helens Borough Council Music Service Charging and Remissions Policy and Procedure for Parents/Carers

Introduction

A key objective of the Music Education Hub grant provided to the council by the DfE is to help assist in the removal of barriers to learning and making progress for young musicians. As such, this policy has been created to help parents and carers support their children's engagement and progress in music across a whole range of activities provided by St Helens Borough Council Music Service.

Weekly Ensemble Membership including Music Theory and GCSE Classes

All ensembles, bands, choirs and orchestras are currently free of charge to all children and young people that wish to join a music centre group, irrespective of who teaches them and which school or academy they attend. However, some groups are only open to young musicians of a certain standard. Please discuss your child's needs with a member of the Music Service staff prior to registering them.

Likewise, Music Theory and GCSE classes are free to attend but parents/carers will need to pay for the entry to the relevant examinations. GCSE classes are only open to young people educated in a St Helens school that does not currently offering a GCSE course to their cohort.

Instrumental and Vocal Lessons

Please note that this section of the policy is only for tuition provided directly by the Music Service as part of its weekly Music Centre activities. Lessons that take place in schools are undertaken via an agreement and charge made with each school based upon their requests for tuition and other music-making activities. Parents and Carers of children in receipt of such lessons should refer directly to their child's school remission and charging policy if they feel they are eligible for either a mandatory or discretional remission of fees.

The Music Service provides lessons as part of its weekly music centre activities during term time. However, due to limited availability of time, lessons are usually only offered to intermediate or advanced students (as defined by the External Examinations Boards) or those learning to play a minority musical instrument. Tuition is also sometimes provided to beginners where their chosen instrument is not provided by their school. However, tuition at the music centre is not seen as an alternative to lessons during the school day.

Current charges for lessons are as follows:

  • £18.50 for an individual 30-minute lesson
  • £9.50 for a shared 30-minute lesson
  • £6.50 for a group of 3 in a 30-minute lesson
  • £5.00 for a group of 4-6 in a 30-minute lesson

Parents or Carers of students in Year 3 or above that are in receipt of Free School Meals while living in or attending school in St Helens are eligible to receive financial support for instrumental or vocal lessons as part of the evening Music Centre activities. A 50% remission of fees is provided in these cases.

Support is offered until the end of the academic year, to a maximum of 32 lessons, based upon continuing eligibility, satisfactory attendance and progress by the student. This information forms part of the annual student progress report to parents each summer term.

St Helens Borough Council offers this financial support and may operate a waiting list if we receive more applications than the available funding. Looked after Children are eligible for a 100% remission of fees.

Remission of fees is also considered in some cases as part of a gifted and talented development plan in cases where lessons are already taking place at the Music Centre.

This is sometimes provided in the form of additional lesson time each week (i.e. where lessons have been previously 20 minutes in length and pupil progress and level of attainment warrant additional time, for example where a student is working towards higher grades or entry to further study). In these cases the offer of additional time will form part of the development plan we ask students and their parents/carers to agree to at the start of that year's programme.

To support the learning of Endangered Species instruments, we now offer a limited amount of scholarships to encourage young people to take up an unusual instrument. This scholarship includes at least one term of free tuition (reviewed termly subject to satisfactory attendance and progress reports) and not longer than one year and a 50% remission of fees up to the child reaching the Green Hub Award standard.

Your child will be expected to join a suitable ensemble as soon as the teacher recommends that they are of an appropriate standard. If the child fails to attend lessons and ensemble rehearsals or fails to make consistent progress, the scholarship and instrument will be withdrawn.

Progress and attendance are closely monitored by your child's tutor and Music Service managers. Where we have concerns over attendance and/or progress the tutor will alert you at the earliest opportunity. Instruments currently included are tuba, bassoon, oboe, cello, double bass, French horn, euphonium and orchestral percussion.

Loan and purchase of Instruments and other Equipment

In most cases the Music Service is able to provide all children and young people in receipt of lessons by one of its tutors a loan of a suitable instrument free of charge. This is usually for an initial period of two years but can be extended where required in discussion with your child's instrumental tutor.

Some programmes such as our Wider Opportunities: First Access programme and instrumental taster sessions will have loan agreements for short periods of time, usually somewhere between one and three terms in durations. For those parents/carers wishing to purchase an instrument for their child, the service provides an Assisted Instruments Purchase Scheme (AIPS) which offers significant discounts to parents purchasing through the service rather than directly with a retailer. Please see
the section below for more information.

Parents/Carers are expected to provide other equipment such as music, tutor books and consumables (such as reeds, sticks and strings etc.) to support their child's continued progress. However, the service has a small stock of used tutor books it is able to loan to students in cases of extreme hardship. Please discuss in confidence any issues of this nature with your child's instrumental or vocal tutor; who will check to see if any stock is available for loan.

Assisted Instruments Purchase Scheme (AIPS)

Parents/carers of any child who is educated or living in St Helens is eligible to access the assisted instrument purchase scheme. The scheme offers instrument purchases to be made without VAT for young people who have their instrumental lessons within a recognised educational setting. A small administration charge is added to each purchase dependent on the cost of the instrument. These are currently:

Instrument's valueCharge (inc.VAT)
Up to £100£8.50
£101 to £350£14.50
£351 to £999£17.50
Over £1000£22.50


Read more information about this scheme.

Examinations

It is expected that all examination fees will be met by parents/carers in all cases, including those of Looked After Children. To help with the costs, especially in the early stages of learning, the service provides a range of cost effective examinations called Hub Awards for all instruments that are undertaken as part of their weekly lessons rather than at an external examination centre.

Video recordings are internally marked and moderated creating a vastly cheaper method of providing recognition of achievement and progress.

All Hub Awards currently cost £7.00 each.

Where traditional external examinations are seen as part of the learning process, parents/carers will need to factor in the cost of purchase of the relevant music books (as photocopiers will break copyright laws) and the cost of an accompanist as well as the cost of the examination itself.

ABRSM examination charges are currently:

  • Grade 1 £44.00
  • Grade 2 £50.00
  • Grade 3 £58.00
  • Grade 4 £63.00
  • Grade 5 £69.00
  • Grade 6 £80.00
  • Grade 7 £85.00
  • Grade 8 £101.00

The service is also able to provide the services of a piano accompanist to help prepare students for the examination as on the day of the examination itself. Charges for these are currently:

  • 30-minute rehearsal and Accompaniment during examination: £30
  • Additional 30 minute rehearsals: £15

Other qualifications offered by the Music Service include Arts Award and GCSE Music. The costs of
entry for these are as follows:

  • Discover £4.00
  • Explore £13.75
  • Bronze £24.50
  • Silver £30.00
  • Gold £45.00

GCSE entry fee is £40.65.

Play Days and Holiday Courses

Across the year the service provides a variety of play days and courses at weekends and during the school holidays. These are charged at £21 for the first day and £16 for each additional day of the course. A remission of fees is provided at a cost of £10 per day to all eligible young people, i.e. those in receipt of Free School Meals.

In addition to this we are able to offer siblings attending courses together a remission of fees, e.g. one fully paid place with any additional children charged £10 per day. Looked After Children are eligible for a 100% remission of fees upon request. Please contact the Music Service office to discuss remission of fees for play days and holiday courses prior to booking a place.

Some activities are provided in conjunction with our partners in the Merseyside Music Education Hub Alliance (MMEHA). Currently, the St Helens Music Education Hub bears a share of the costs associated with running these activities as well as the costs of transporting students to and from St Helens to the rehearsal venues.

Additional Activities Supported through A Hub Award Personal Development Plan

Young musicians that have gone through the Hub Award selection process are provided with a personalised development plan intended to broaden and deepen their musical knowledge, skill and range of experiences through a menu of additional activities.

Some activities are provided free of charge to all Hub Musicians during their regular Friday evening programme of activities. All activities that bear a cost to parents will be detailed in your child's personal development plan.

These activities are suggested to further the opportunity offered to young people in St Helens, to raise aspiration and broaden horizons of what is possible.

These include, attending concerts, courses offered by partner organisations (e.g. Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company, National Children's Brass Band, Sound City etc.), conferences and play days organised by conservatoires as well as competitions and festivals. Unfortunately, some of these activities will inevitably have associated
course and travel fees attached to them.

The service will seek to obtain the best deal possible for group bookings and provide such subsidies for all eligible young musicians. Where charges exist these will be fully communicated to parents/carers in advance. In cases where you are unable to meet these charges and fees parents are advised to contact the Music Service, who might be able to assist in finding alternative sources of income through trusts and other grant giving organisations that support young musicians.

Other activities offered have previously included the learning of additional associated instruments with an instrumental family (e.g. a clarinettist learning to play saxophone or a double bass player learning to play bass guitar). Where this is the case the service usually covers the costs of lessons either for a fixed period or for a specified attachment to lessons.

Similarly, where it has been recommended by tutors as part of the selection process that additional lesson time would greatly benefit students, these are provided free of charge to further the skills and knowledge of our Hub Musicians.

Concerts, Educational visits, Festivals, and Tours

Concerts

To help cover the costs of providing concerts of the highest standards possible, the service will charge parents, family and friends an entry fee. These currently are:

  • Adult ticket: £7.00
  • Under 16s ticket: £3.60

Ticket revenue goes towards venue hire and the costs associated with stewarding our events and bringing in professional sound, lighting and staging.

Visits and Festivals

Where groups are taken on educational visits to concerts, masterclasses etc. the cost of entry and transport costs will be passed on to parents/carers. These will be communicated prior to confirmation of attendance at the event.

Similarly, where ensembles attend a festival or competition, funding will be sought to cover transport costs. However, voluntary contributions may be needed to help cover these costs.

Concert Tours and Residential Stays

The Music Service organises a foreign concert tour or residential course on a biannual basis. The tours have previously been organised by companies that specialise in such tours for schools and other youth music groups and include all accommodation, transport and meals as well as providing suitable and rewarding concert venues and excursions.

Full costs of such trips are passed on to parents but the service is able to offer extended payment plans where these have been agreed with the Music Service in advance.

Assistance with costs is available to support multiple family members, those in receipt of Free School Meals or looked after children. Any pupil eligible for a remission of fees for concert tours and residential stays will be required to pay at least the holding deposit, which in previous years has been £50.00.

Funding for this has come from the Council but additional support has more recently been provided by the Friends of St Helens Music Service fundraising group. Please contact the Music Service office to discuss remission of fees for concert tours and residential stays.

Decision Making

All decisions to make an award of a remission of fees, scholarship or bursary is made by the Music Service Remissions Panel. The panel is made up of the Head and an Assistant Head of the Music Service, The Hub Board Chair Person and is convened by the Head of Service for SEND and Inclusion.

All decisions made by the panel are then scrutinised and ratified by the Music Education Hub Board before awards are made. The Panel meets as require to discuss remission applications.

Review and Changes to this policy

Charges made to schools and individuals for activities provided by the Music Service are subject to annual review and agreement by elected members and senior council officers. All changes to charges are only made where necessary and in line with Council guidelines or where external factors dictate a greater increase to the cost of a particular activity.

External examinations and attendance on courses provided by third parties are outside the control of the Council but where saving and discounts can be made through block bookings and partnership arrangements, these will be passed on to service users.