Third drop music because of fees

11th October 1996 at 01:00
More than one in three Borders pupils has stopped taking instrumental music lessons this session as a direct result of the council's imposition of charges. The cost-saving measure is also adding to administrative costs.

A report to the Scottish Borders education committee this week said "many letters of complaint" had been received over the Pounds 76-a-year charges. Although a quarter of the 800 pupils receiving lessons are fully or partially exempt, some 300 have pulled out.

The latest figures reinforce findings from a survey by the Co-op of more than 450 primary and secondary schools throughout the UK which revealed that music is also being hit because schools cannot afford to repair or replace instruments on which they currently spend an average of Pounds 569 a year.

Borders hoped to raise Pounds 40,000 from fees and the council says it needs an extra Pounds 15,000-Pounds 20,000 to maintain and purchase instruments.

Councillors heard that the introduction of charges has had "a profound effect" on relationships between instructors, pupils and parents, and will lead to higher administrative costs.

Because a guarantee was given that pupils will receive a minimum of 28 lessons each session, the council may have to refund parents if children have fewer lessons as a result of instructor absences.

The Co-op meanwhile has linked up with Yamaha to provide instrument vouchers for shoppers who spend more than Pounds 10. More than 550 Scottish schools have registered. The Co-op's survey found that almost four in five schools were short of instruments and that two-thirds of pupils had been unable to learn the instrument of their choice.

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