Uncertainty surrounds the future of instrumental music teaching in South Australian public schools following a shake-up of Instrumental Music Service (IMS). A unit within the State Government’s Office of Education, it sends teachers out to schools to provide individual instrumental tuition and ensemble teaching to students across Years 3-12.
IMS is currently undergoing a revamp that will see its functions spread across 20 “focus schools” to give a greater number of students, especially those in disadvantaged areas, the opportunity to learn an instrument. To be known as Instrumental Music, the new model will be phased in from the beginning of 2016 and be fully operational by 2017, according to a report issued by the Department for Education and Child Development.
While the Department says efficiencies will be gained, criticisms have been raised against the plan. “Teachers and unions fear the proposal cannot work without greater resourcing,” wrote The Advertiser’s Tim Williams in August.
Friends of the Instrumental Music Service SA have expressed fears on Facebook, saying that: “South Australia may lose one of its most celebrated educational treasures – as it is currently constituted. The proposed ‘new model’ is scant in detail and leaves many questions unanswered. It appears that the IMS team would be broken up, appointed to different schools and lose their ensembles.”
IMS has long been regarded as a model for the delivery of instrumental teaching since its beginning in 1962. Statistics gathered in 2013 show that it taught about 7,000 out of 125,000 students in SA Government schools.