Welcome to my blog, in which I aim to write about music and in particular about matters that may be of interest to any members of the Society for Wessex Young Musicians (SWYM, of which I am currently Chairman – since November 2012), and to anyone interested in the Centre for Wessex Young Musicians (CWYM) which is part of the Bournemouth and Poole College (“The College”). Parents of CWYM pupils are automatically members of SWYM. (Update 16 Apr 2017, important: please see the comments added below this post by me on 13 Mar and 16 Apr 2017. In particular, I resigned both as Chairman and from the SWYM Committee on 4 Feb 2017, although I remain a member of SWYM. Update 15 Sep 2017: similarly please see any further comments posted).
The Centre for Wessex Young Musicians includes several ensembles, of which the Wessex Youth Orchestra (founded by Don Riddell MBE in 1971) is the most well known. The others are the Wessex Junior Fanfare, the Wessex Youth Fanfare, the Wessex Starter Strings and the Wessex Middle Strings.
Disclosure of interests
As well as being Chairman of SWYM, I am also a parent of a pupil at the Centre, and my wife Jane conducts the Wessex Starter and Middle Strings. I don’t think the accuracy of what I am likely to post in this blog (which I intend to be mainly about questions of fact) is going to be affected by these interests, but I am declaring them so that readers/visitors to my blog can take them into account when forming their own views about what I say. If you think that what I say should be significantly discounted because of an actual or potential conflict of interest, then please do comment on this to draw this to other readers’ attention and I will attempt to address your concerns.
I am a passionate believer in free speech, but as is common practice, I reserve the right to remove any comments that I perceive to be defamatory, or against the law, or spam/significantly off topic. (Visitors are of course entitled to write what they like – again within the law – on their own blogs).
Subject to the above, comments are very welcome, particularly from SWYM members, but also from anyone else having an interest in governance/good operating culture, or in music/the topics discussed generally.
I resigned from the Committee at a meeting on 4 Feb 2017 at the request of fellow Committee members, who had been told by CWYM Director Susanna Riddell that “the future of the Centre would be at stake unless I was removed from the Committee as soon as possible”. This happened after I continued to press for answers to important questions of governance.
mportant update: I started this blog on 8 Dec 2016. I unpublished it on 13 Jan 2017 at the request of a majority of fellow SWYM Committee members, but reinstated it partially (just 4 pages: this page, Concert and other key dates for 2016-2017, In praise of Prokofiev, and SWYM Constitution) on 12 Mar 2017, after leaving the Committee on 4 Feb 2017 and following a continued lack of answers from either the College or the Committee to important questions of governance.
I am now republishing it in full today (16 Apr 2017) as there has been no progress since then and I will be publishing items received from the College under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on it.
Update 12 May 2017: for completeness of disclosure, as of yesterday afternoon (11 May) my wife is no longer conductor of Wessex Starter and Wessex Middle strings.
Update 17 July 2017: I am a critic of Bournemouth and Poole College under its current management. As can be seen from my posts, they have been late in responding to Freedom of Information requests, and (in my opinion – they do not accept this) – given inconsistent and contradictory answers. And I have significant concerns with the reliability and fairness of their complaints procedure (see posts of 14 and 17 July).
See my post of today for why I am so concerned about the reliability and fairness of the College's complaints procedure. (PS At the moment, technically I may not be a member of SWYM, as we have not yet decided whether to re-enroll our child in the Centre.)
Given our very significant concerns about the culture and how things are run at the College, we decided not to re-enrol our child last term. I believe that staff and students (and the public, since the College is publicly funded) deserve better, so will continue to ask for things to be improved.