Secret WYO rehearsal schedules which both the WYO Director and the College repeatedly tried to stop publication of

(This post is made on a personal basis, as a member – and until recently Chairman -of SWYM because of my significant concerns about some aspects of the running of the otherwise excellent Wessex Youth Orchestra, and about recent aspects of the governance of SWYM. Please see for important background and disclosure of interests).

Almost six months after I first asked for the autumn schedule, and delays in obtaining it under Freedom of Information, followed by repeated attempts by the Bournemouth and Poole College (the College) to avoid the information being published (by false claims that it would infringe copyright to do so) I am now able to publish the Wessex Youth Orchestra (WYO)’s rehearsal schedule for Autumn 2016, and also for Spring 2017.

I pointed out several times to the College that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has made clear that copyright is no bar to publication of responses received under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and that copyright is not infringed by publishing the information providing the copyright is acknowledged. (See paragraph 18 of   The College did not reply for several weeks and when I asked a third time for clarification came back with “we acknowledge the regulations” which evaded the question.
When an organisation repeatedly claims that a list (of rehearsal dates and times, and instructions to children/parents about confidentiality and how many rehearsals must be attended) is COPYRIGHT and publishing it would breach that copyright, then one is entering PrivateEye territory. Such a claim stretches credulity and smacks of a desperate attempt to avoid publication of the said schedules.
Having double checked this, it is clear that the information released to me by the College under the Freedom of Information Act may be published providing that the copyright is acknowledged, and that no commercial use is made of the information.  The College did not answer my question as to who the copyright belonged to, so I assume (since the schedules were written by a College employee, the WYO Director) that it belongs to the Bournemouth and Poole College.
Having acknowledged that the copyright of the rehearsal schedules belongs to the College, and that anyone who reproduces them should also acknowledge that copyright, and obtain the College’s written permission before making any commercial use of the schedules (it is very hard to see how anyone could do so – again the claim of protection by copyright seems to be an artificial device to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act), here are the schedules:
WYO Rehearsal Schedule for Spring 2017
Page 1:(note that although the title says Autumn, it is actually for Spring 2017)
WYO Rehearsal Schedule Spring 2017 Page 1 (Copyright Bournemouth and Poole College)
Page 2:
WYO Rehearsal Schedule Spring 2017 Page 2 (Copyright Bournemouth and Poole College)
Regular WYO rehearsals take place on Saturday mornings, so note the extra rehearsals (6, on top of 12 regular rehearsals, i.e. 50% extra), and in particular those on Thursday/Friday and Saturday in two successive weeks.
The WYO Director has claimed that no pressure is put on WYO players (mainly teenagers who also therefore have school and other commitments, including in some cases GCSE and A levels, and some of whom travel from outside Bournemouth and Poole, including from Dorchester or further) to attend extra rehearsals.  This is not in accord with what I have heard from some schools and teachers and is contradicted by the requirement to attend at least 70% of WYO rehearsals. Even if a player attended all 12 of the regular rehearsals (not always possible due to other commitments, e.g. family holidays during half-term), they would still need to attend at least one extra rehearsal. 
I asked for a copy of the schedule last October, as Chairman of SWYM, but the WYO Director refused to give it to me, claiming that there was no need for anyone other than WYO members and their families to see it, and that there was no problem in avoiding clashes with school or other commitments because she was in regular contact with school heads of music or headteachers. This was disputed by some teachers at the time and is also contradicted by another part of the response that I received to my Freedom of Information request about the Autumn schedule .  I will write further on this when time permits. Nevertheless, I had been pleased to hear from the WYO Director’s line manager at the College in early December that she expected schedules to be published. 
However, this did not happen, hence my resorting to Freedom of Information requests.  Despite this, the new WYO website (which appears to be under the control of the WYO Director, rather than the College, in contradiction to what her line manager told the SWYM Committee at its January meeting) still says (today) in that members and their parents must keep the schedule confidential (see screenshot below), as do the Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017 schedules.  I challenge the appropriateness of the WYO Director (and by implication the College) asking children and their parents to keep secret from their teachers at school whether or not they have a WYO extra rehearsal on a particular weekday evening, particularly when the schedules are clearly available (despite the copyright smokescreen thrown up) under Freedom of Information.

I acknowledge the excellence of the music produced by the WYO (indeed have been proud to support it for the past 10 years), but does any other youth orchestra demand similar levels of secrecy from parents and children about extra rehearsals, or regularly hold so many extra rehearsals, including several on weekday evenings (and hence more likely to clash with homework or school/other events)?

Soon after I took on the role of SWYM Chairman in 2012, I asked the WYO Director how we avoided clashes with schools/other ensembles, and I was pleased when she told me that her very clear message to WYO players was that school must come first. Unfortunately that answer appears to have been misleading/unreliable, as does her reply to me last October. .

WYO Rehearsal Schedule for Autumn 2016

Page 1:
WYO Rehearsal Schedule Autumn 2016 Page 1 (Copyright Bournemouth and Poole College)
Page 2:
WYO Rehearsal Schedule Autumn 2016 Page 2 (Copyright Bournemouth and Poole College)

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