Tuition fees for music are selection by another name

6th June 2003 at 01:00
I would like to clarify the comments attributed to me at the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association conference (TESS, May 23). My concern is that there is no level playing field in terms of methods of payment for music tuition.

We do have concessions but with a myriad of categories and levels of reduction. If we examine the norm - 50 per cent off a large sum is still a large sum - at the top of the scale that is pound;133, still 50 per cent more than the notional average full rate.

Authorities grumble that they already subsidise Scottish Qualification Authority candidates. I have witnessed the downside to that argument.

Pupils who should have started earlier "opt in" at third year on economic grounds and never achieve their full potential. This has a knock-on effect on that other "holy cow", attainment.

Sadder still is the early starter who gives up after two or three years of good progress due to financial constraints. I have seen it all too often.

The current system amounts to selection of pupils by their ability to pay and surely this is unacceptable. Music is either important or not.

Effectively what is happening is that many poor, talented and keen students - the type we should be trying to encourage - are being disenfranchised.

Ken Calder Clackannanshire SSTA

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