Saturday, 27 January 2018

Bournemouth and Poole College: why do the concerns I raise matter?

(Post made at 1046 UK time on 27 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).

This is a follow up to a previous post, Why is this public?

Great music education is a partnership between classroom teachers, specialist teachers, professional performers and a host of other organisations, including those from the arts, charity and voluntary sectors.

The quote above is from page 3 of the government's "The Importance of Music", a National Plan for Music Education.

Reactions from some CWYM parents to the concerns I have raised have been along the lines of "fake news!", or "what does it matter if the rehearsals are secret?" "this is just admin, life's too short for that" or "stop criticising the Centre!".

My answers are:

  1. To the best of my knowledge, nothing in this blog is "fake news", and I have written evidence to back up everything I have said.  With regard to whether cooperation between CWYM and other musical organisations has been good, I have written statements from several witnesses (which I supplied to the College) that in their view cooperation had been unsatisfactory over a long period of time.  The email from CWYM to a school head of music refusing an advance request for help when one of six (!) extra rehearsals clashed with a weekday school concert  provides clear supporting evidence to back up what those witnesses told me.  Note that there has been no denial from the College that that email is genuine. Notice also that, even today, the CWYM website still instructs parents and children that the rehearsal schedules are secret ( still says "Members will be informed of a following season’s concert dates by email each summer, and then regularly throughout a season on the WYO schedules (for WYO members and families only) and by email").  This is 13 months after a senior member of staff at the College told me in writing that he/she expected the schedules to be published. 
  2. To the follow up questions, "so what if they are secret?" "so what if cooperation is poor?" my reply is: isn't that a rather selfish attitude? At a minimum, the likely absence of key players at key times seems to have caused significant stress to some other teachers/ensemble leaders, who have a difficult enough job as it is. Overall the impact on those other musical organisations seems to have been harmful, as indeed one might logically expect it to be.  In any case, the College claims to want to work harmoniously with other community organisations. Indeed as a publicly funded body and a charity doesn't it have a duty to do so? How does secrecy and a lack of cooperation comply with the importance of working in partnership referred to in the quote at the start of this post? In the absence of any valid counter to arguments such as these, if someone were still to say "so what?" then I think their views of right and wrong and mine differ enormously.  I believe most CWYM parents would agree that music teaching plays an important part in schools (see here for my thoughts on this).

Friday, 26 January 2018

I have no reason to believe that anything I have posted is untrue, but anyone who disagrees has the right of reply and should use it

(Post made at 1905 UK time on 26 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).

A reminder that anyone who disputes the accuracy of any of my statements in any of the blog posts is free to explain why/add corrections in the comments. (Please see the Terms of Use on this page. In the 13 months since creating this blog, I have not had occasion to remove any comments).

If any statement can be demonstrated to be untrue I will gladly correct it . Indeed I have a professional obligation to do so, just as I have a professional obligation to speak out as I have done about actions which I believe are unethical, improper or unlawful.

Resorting to legal threats or making complaints is over the top and unnecessary. If anyone has evidence that any of the statements I have made is incorrect, the normal (and simplest) remedy is to simply produce that evidence.  (Indeed, making threats without having any such evidence would be an abuse of process in my view, and unlikely to succeed, since I have taken great care that all my statements of fact are evidence-based.)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Record of Wessex Youth Orchestra Leaders

(Post made at 1402 UK time on 07 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).

James di Capite (Leader) and Patrick Curlett (soloist and former Leader) in 2006

This is a record of the list of Wessex Youth Orchestra (WYO) leaders to the best of my knowledge.  Any corrections/omissions/additions gratefully received. (This is some of the content which I had added to the previous CWYM website which was closed down, along with the previous CWYM Facebook page, by sudden order of the Bournemouth and Poole College in December 2016. This content - part of the WYO's history - doesn't seem to appear anywhere now so I am reproducing it here).

2017-2018 Helena Bartlett
2016-2017 Helena Bartlett
2015-2016 Helena Bartlett
2014-2015 Helena Bartlett
2013-2014 Eszter Sitku
2012-2013 Nathalie Green-Buckley

Friday, 5 January 2018

Bournemouth and Poole College's Centre for Wessex Young Musicians Facebook page still claims it is a charity ...if so, since when?

(Post made at 1900 UK time on 05 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests). 

Further to my previous post, the Facebook page still claims that the CWYM is a charity.  The normal rule is that organisations with income exceeding £5,000 and claiming to be charities need to be registered ...

Update 1630 UK time on 10 Jan 2018: the page now seems to have been corrected, and says "Orchestra in Poole, Dorset". This particular Facebook page seems to have been set up almost a year ago (the first visible post is dated 7 Feb 2017 - how long has the false claim been made that CWYM (or by implication SWYM) is a charity? And why did the College think this was appropriate/acceptable? During my time on the SWYM Committee the question as to whether SWYM could become a charity was discussed on several occasions, and each time the College representatives replied that SWYM could not be a charity because it was part of the College.  (Indeed this appears to be correct from paragraph 1 of the SWYM Constitution -unless this was changed at the 2017 AGM which is possible but unlikely -which says

The society shall be called the Society for Wessex Young Musicians and shall be affiliated to and form part of Bournemouth and Poole College of Further Education (“The College”).)

So whoever set up the claim in the CWYM Facebook page that it was a charity should have known that this not right.)

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The Bournemouth and Poole College's Wessex Youth Orchestra spent just under £2,000 on extra players for two concerts

(Post made at 1412 UK time on 02 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests). 

On 3 December 2016, as still then Chairman of the Society for Wessex Young Musicians (SWYM), I was very surprised to be asked to sign cheques totalling just over £3,000.  This included just under £2,000 for extra players for the WYO's concerts of 16 November 2016 (the Music for Youth Schools' Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, 16 extra players) and 4 December 2016 at the Lighthouse (at least 8 extra players).

I have no objections to extra players in principle e.g. to fill in missing parts (e.g. harp), or in situations where the musicians concerned were ex WYO members. The latter help provide extra continuity, and can usefully - because they often know the WYO children well - be part of the accompanying adults team on tours.

But the numbers involved seemed a) much higher than usual, b) the majority had no connection with the WYO, and c) had not been cleared with the SWYM Committee in advance. Expenditure had instead been approved for the WYO to receive sectional rehearsals led by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra players. I have always felt this was very valuable because all WYO players benefit from such tuition, and it also enhances the link with our excellent local professional orchestra.

The Bournemouth and Poole College's Centre for Wessex Young Musicians Facebook page claims it is a charity - I don't believe it is one

(Post made at 0855 UK time on 02 Jan 2018 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests). 

The Centre for Wessex Young Musicians (CWYM)'s Facebook page, set up by the Bournemouth and Poole College early in 2017, is at

This states that it is a "Charity in Poole, Dorset" (click on the image to see it in larger detail).

Why? And for how long has this claim (false in my view) been made?

To the best of my knowledge, CWYM has never been a charity, and neither has SWYM (the Society for Wessex Young Musicians).