Editor's comment

5th March 2010 at 00:00

The fears for the future of music tuition in schools (p1) are an early warning of what is to come, as councils struggle to balance their books. As with school maintenance budgets in days of old, non-statutory services like instrumental instruction are easy prey in tough times. Their vulnerability gives the lie to assertions that "frontline services" will be spared the axe, and their potential fate reinforces Don Ledingham's wake-up call to reform school management and funding (p4).

Claims and counter-claims will inevitably emerge in the coming months and years over what core priorities ought to be. But eroding music tuition is particularly short-sighted, since it ticks some significant boxes. Not only does public performance give young people a taste of success and a boost in confidence, but music also stimulates career aspirations and cognitive skills, as well as acting as a vehicle for wider learning. These positive benefits should not be choked off. Would similar threats to sport or science be tolerated? And what happened to creativity, that bedrock of Curriculum for Excellence? Councils should reflect, too, on the fact that showcasing the work of music students brings them huge public kudos and a feel-good factor which should not be underestimated.

Teachers will inevitably look at what is happening to music tuition and conclude that it is the thin end of a wedge which could destabilise the grandiose plans for the new curriculum. The issue could well become the catalyst for making demands to delay its introduction unanswerable (p5).

There is a grim warning from councils' past experience of repeatedly hacking away at school maintenance budgets in the 1970s and 1980s: it stored up serious problems for later years and ended up costing more to make good the damage.

Neil Munro, editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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