Sounds good: music school and sensory centre saved

18th March 2011 at 00:00

The Scottish Government has stepped in at the last minute to save two centres, recognised for excellence in their fields, just days before the dissolution of Parliament for the Scottish elections.

Education Secretary Michael Russell announced on Tuesday that the future of Plockton Traditional School of Music is secure until 2015.

And Children's Minister Adam Ingram announced on Wednesday that a deal had been struck between the Government and Edinburgh University to protect the Scottish Sensory Centre, which supports teachers of deaf, visually impaired and deafblind pupils, for the forthcoming year.

Mr Russell said that an additional pound;200,000 a year from 2012-13 to 2014-15 from the Government would enable the West Highland College UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands) to partner Plockton Traditional School of Music and allow it to open up its facilities to college students.

Highland Council, whose announcement last month that it planned to withdraw funding from the school from July 2012 sparked a campaign, will continue to provide financial support.

The move - to be approved by the college's board and agreed by Highland Council - would see further education courses in traditional music delivered at the school.

The centre's director, Dougie Pincock, said: "We think the partnership with the college will be a fruitful one, and the involvement of tertiary level seems a sensible and logical next step."

Visiting the school, one of Scotland's six national centres of excellence, Mr Russell said the partnership would allow older music students to take advantage of the "quality teaching and outstanding legacy" Plockton has provided.

Norman Gillies, chairman of West Highland College, said: "I look forward to bringing this exciting plan before the college board, and with its support and endorsement we shall strive to make a success of this initiative such that Government is convinced of the value of long-term funding."

Scottish Labour's culture spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, said her party was "delighted" by the announcement, but added that it "should not have been dragged out for so long".

MAKES SENSE

The Scottish Sensory Centre based at Edinburgh University was told earlier this month the Scottish Government was withdrawing its pound;200,000 funding because of public spending cuts.

Now, Children's Minister Adam Ingram has announced that the Government will provide pound;150,000, with the university providing a further pound;50,000, to cover the next financial year.

The centre's long-term funding will be considered as part of the Doran review of learning provision for children and young people with complex additional support needs, which is under way.

The threat of closure provoked protests from teachers and support groups for the sector.

chris.small@tes.co.uk.

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