Every child should be able to learn an instrument said David Blunkett. But will he be able to fulfill his promise? Dorothy Lepkowska on the results of a TES survey of local authorities.
PARENTS in Scotland have had to foot the largest increase in charges for music tuition in Britain - a rise of more than 66 per cent over the past three years.
This takes the average cost of fees per term to just over Pounds 33. Welsh fees are the lowest at just Pounds 23 a term though they have also risen by 28 per cent over the same period. However, Wales has the lowest proportion of youngsters enjoying subsidised classes - 13 per cent, compared with 27 per cent for Scotland and 14 per cent in England.
The overall number of pupils taking instrument or singing lessons has increased in both Wales and Scotland, both nations having a better record than England. However, music providers in both countries want ministers to do more to improve the service and remain unconvinced of recent pronouncements.
Scottish local authorities want to see cash for music ring-fenced, along the lines proposed for England. All 19 of those that responded provide music tuition centrally.
Aberdeen City Council said in the survey: "Both David Blunkett and his Scottish equivalent Brian Wilson make noises about supporting instrumental music. However, in cutting the grants to LEAs, it forces these authorities to look at ways of saving money and music instruction, as a non-statutory provision, is number one target."
In Wales, local authorities were concerned about the age and state of the instrument stock. The Schools Music Service for Gwynedd, Anglesey and Denbighshire, said: "We are currently in the process of making a Lottery application for Pounds 200,000 to replenish instrument stock for use by pupils being taught with old and unsuitable instruments, some being held together by Sellotape, insulating tape and Blu Tac."