Drumming up staff as charges are abolished

7th March 2003 at 00:00
The Heads of Instrumental Teaching Scotland (HITS) have been actively involved in seeking additional funding for many years to support music tuition in schools and we are delighted with last week's announcement of pound;17.5 million to allow education authorities to offer free tuition to younger pupils.

However, there are a few practical concerns as the funding becomes available in April. The HITS group are in the ideal position of management and knowledge to assist in any way that is deemed appropriate with implementing the arrangements for the additional funding.

Concern is being expressed from several of our members as to the pro rata element of the funding. Authorities which charge for music lessons could not benefit as much as authorities which do not charge, as their pro rata element would also have to offset their income from charging. Moreover, authorities which are at the lower end of the average provision for music tuition could also fail to benefit from the desired financial impact.

It would be prudent not to focus too much on the issue of abolition of charges at the expense of the targets to be achieved, namely to extend, enhance and allow access to all who wish to take part in instrumental music lessons.

I believe this is where the first-hand knowledge and expertise of the HITS group in the day-to-day management of Scotland's music education services would be an invaluable support to the Executive on the practicalities involved in relation to the additional funding.

Finding appropriately trained and qualified staff will also become an issue. At the moment it is already difficult to find, for instance, percussion tutors.

As the funding is for three years, are there any arrangements for ensuring the future sustainability of the additional instrumental music teaching which will then be firmly in place?

Whatever the answers to these questions, there will be significant demands put on music services in the future as a result.

Colin Bowen

Chair, Heads of Instrumental Teaching Scotland

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