Founder of Henley Music School Resigns to Save School

Laura Reineke, founder and CEO of Henley Music School, has had to resign from her position of the charity to save the School from closure.

Henley Music School provides music lessons and loan of musical instruments to children and adults in the local community.  The School also provides bursaries for children who cannot afford lessons which amounts to £16,000 per annum and is rising.

The charity has been hit by the cost-of-living crisis with more people requesting bursaries and the small number of donations to the charity is not enough to sustain the charity which costs £5,000 per month to run. Applications for grant funding have also not been successful due to the increasing demand from many more charities applying for the same pot of money. As well as Laura resigning from her paid position, music teachers have agreed to reduce their pay or offered voluntary hours to try and save money. The School has not been able to return this term to run school curriculum music lessons at Trinity and Badgemore Schools. Some individual music lessons have been put on hold for those who had bursaries however Henley Educational Trust have stepped in and agreed to support others.

Headteacher at Badgemore Tim Hoskins said, “Henley Music School have been supporting Badgemore for a number of years now. Unfortunately due to funding issues, whole class lessons supported by HMS has had to stop.  Music is possibly one of the hardest subjects to teach for those who do not have a background in music. Our children have thoroughly enjoyed engaging with the HMS music experts and we have seen fantastic results. Our children clearly love the lessons and we hope this can be remedied quickly.”

Laura has written a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak this week saying, “After approximately 18 years of building the charity from just a few individuals to what it has become, benefiting over 900 children & 100 adults, and to save HMS from insolvency I am giving you my resignation.  A very sad day indeed, my innate love of music, and my belief in an all-round education for every child meant I had no option but to step in where budgets and the government had failed.”

Laura started teaching music lessons and after school clubs at Trinity School where her children attended.  She then took over Henley Festival Trust and the Henley Festival Orchestra. She founded Henley Music School in 2010 as a community interest company and it became a registered charity in 2016.

The letter to the PM continued, “Ordinary people like myself, NGO’s and charities are stepping in to cover these failings is a testament to the resilience and compassion of civil society.  In many instances, charitable organisations have filled critical gaps in essential services such as healthcare, education, and social welfare.  These dedicated groups often bridge the divide when government resources fall short or bureaucratic obstacles hinder progress.  However, while charities can provide invaluable assistance, they should not be seen as long-term solution to systemic problems.  The sheer number of charities filling this gap has blossomed, so all funding bodies are receiving numerous applications, there simply isn’t enough to go around.”

The Trustees of HMS were thanked in the PM’s letter “for their precious time to enable HMS to run, grow and provide inclusive music education to anyone.”  Laura commented, “The Trustees and myself are looking to regroup and look at ways we can make the charity sustainable going forward.”

In December 2022, Laura unveiled major plans to refurbish Trinity Hall on Harpsden Road to become Henley Community Hub which would create a permanent home for Henley Music School and a centre for community groups.  Laura explains “Plans for this are still going ahead; we have just submitted a full planning application for the development of the hall which will be used by community groups and HMS.”

If you would like to support Henley Music School you can make a donation to Henley Music School, Sort Code 60-10-25, Account No. 13280112


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