Instrumental music tuition fees to be scrapped

Charges for students for subjects such as home economics and drama are also being removed

Henry Hepburn

Instrumental music tuition fees to be scrapped in Scotland

Fees for learning a musical instrument at school will be removed, the Scottish government said today.

It announced that £7 million was being made available to realise the SNP manifesto commitment.

Councils will also receive £6 million to "waive core curriculum charges" for families, including materials for home economics or theatre trips for drama qualifications.

Music: What the SNP promised in its manifesto

Music tuition: Number of music pupils drops for the third year in a row

Background: Covid impact on music teaching revealed

Opinion: ‘Music will be pivotal in the recovery from Covid-19'

Music: High levels of engagement in lockdown music teaching

Quick read: ‘Delusional’ advice to learn new instrument is attacked

The agreement with local authorities' body Cosla covers the 2021-22 academic year.

One teacher of expressive arts tweeted: "Amazing news but communication needed about where the money will be coming from for key resources  can’t be a blanket approach for every school."

Money 'isn't the only barrier' to music tuition

Another tweet described the move as "encouraging" but said that barriers to music tuition "may not necessarily be money-based" and that "music tuition should be available to all pupils not just [a] select few deemed capable enough of receiving it", adding that "more specialist teachers and more availability of lessons would do far more".

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "My priority is to ensure the best possible outcomes for all of Scotland’s children and young people, whatever their background. All children should have the best start in life and the ability to take part in core elements of education should never be limited by a child’s ability to pay.

"Today’s announcement means families will not see bills for musical tuition or core curriculum activities in the new school year. I will continue to work with Cosla and local authorities to develop a sustainable and funded model for future years."

Cosla children and young people spokesperson Stephen McCabe said: "Councils recognise the importance of instrumental music tuition for the learning and development of our children and young people. Where fees were in place for tuition this is due to a range of local pressures on core council budgets. The one-year funding package agreed between Cosla leaders and Scottish government will allow for the removal of fees in the coming academic year and the maintenance of existing levels of provision, so that fees and charges are not a barrier to learning an instrument.

"We welcome the commitment from the cabinet secretary for education and skills to work with Cosla and partners in the sector to consider the intent, impact and broader implications of this Scottish government policy intervention and to develop a model for the long-term sustainability of instrumental music tuition services across Scotland, which must include sustainable funding arrangements for all councils."

The government said that the definition of "core" curriculum is "classroom-based activity within the eight core curriculum areas in the broad general education in primary and secondary school plus activity associated with preparation for SQA [Scottish Qualifications Authority] qualifications in the senior phase".

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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