Committee to back free music tuition for all pupils

Written by Gemma Fraser on 22 January 2019 in News

MSPs were told during an inquiry that the number of pupils receiving music tuition dropped dramatically after charging was introduced

Image credit: Scottish Government 

Music tuition should be free in Scotland to all children who wish to take part, a new report is expected to recommend.

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s education and skills committee are set to back the principle of free music tuition following an inquiry into the issue.

It emerged last year that only 10 of Scotland's 32 councils still provided free music tuition.

During evidence to the committee, MSPs heard that some children were being charged up to £500 a year for music lessons, meaning poorer pupils could not afford to learn how to play an instrument.

Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, has welcomed the expected findings of the committee and is calling on the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure the recommendation of free tuition for all is put into practice.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The benefits to be reaped from learning a musical instrument are lifelong.

“The EIS support arts and culture as a means of enriching the lives of Scotland's children and recognises that the young people who engage with instrumental music at school will be Scotland's musicians of the future so we must invest in them now.

“However, whilst we welcome this intervention from the Scottish Parliament, we need to stop the buck passing between the Scottish Government and local authorities over whose responsibility this is.

“Ring-fenced funding would ensure an even playing field across Scotland.

“Learning how to play an instrument is invaluable to individual pupils including in terms of increased self-confidence and in the ability to work collectively with others.

“Action to guarantee free provision would preserve, also, Scotland’s proud cultural tradition of excellence in all types of instrumental music and song.”

During its inquiry, the committee heard about the impact charging for tuition can have, with one local authority seeing nearly 70 per cent of pupils dropping out of music tuition following the introduction of charges.

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