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Case study: Wandsworth Schools Music Service

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

Client: Wandsworth Borough of London Council – Wandsworth Schools Music Service

Date: May 2019 – May 2020

Challenges faced by the client: Wandsworth Schools Music Service (WSMS) offered a range of taught music services to children and young people across the Borough, primarily focusing on tutor support to primary school children.

Despite being a small service, WSMS was financially independent and was looking to follow the approach of many music services across the country in transitioning from a Council run service to an independent charitable model.

To take advantage of certain benefits offered through achieving charitable status, WSMS’ management team commissioned Mutual Ventures to explore the potential to become an independent charitable organisation. As a charity, WSMS would benefit from increased operational freedom and the opportunity to explore wider strategic aims and services, as well as financial benefits, such as gift aid, donations and a reduction in business rates.

The challenge for WSMS was to present the case for becoming a charitable organisation to the Council, and then to make this process a reality, for which expert strategic and legal support was required.

Support offered:

Mutual Ventures, in partnership with our legal partners, Baithwaite Wells (BW) offered strategic and technical support to WSMS in its transition to becoming Wandsworth Music (WM) – an independent charity.

Mutual Ventures role was to quality assure the business case being put forward by WSMS to the Council, using extensive expertise developed through working on a number of similar spin outs. Particular time and effort was spent providing due diligence on the financial model for the Charity, to ensure its future financial viability.

Following the acceptance of the business case, Mutual Ventures developed a business plan for WM, to articulate a strategic direction for the new charity, and to delve deeper into solutions to some technical and operational challenges, such as the WM’s support services solution.

Alongside Mutual Ventures providing this strategic support, BW offered expert legal advise on the key technical challenges WM faced. These issues focused on agreeing an appropriate pensions liability for WM, and advising and facilitating the transfer of staff from the Council to the new organisation.

Outcome achieved:

WM will ‘go live’ as an independent Charity in 2020. WM was originally on track to launch on 1st April 2020, but due to the Covid19 outbreak, there has been a short delay.

This go live date follows months of hard work to overcome technical challenges during the implementation process around future pension contributions and employment arrangements. WM has been registered as a charity with the Charities Commission, and has an experienced Board of Trustees in place, who offer a blend of local knowledge and experience and industry expertise.

WM is now scheduled to go live later in 2020.


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