Scottish schools to get extra £1m for musical instruments

image captionThe minister for learning said every child should have the opportunity to learn an instrument

Schools are to be given an extra £1m by the Scottish government to buy musical instruments for pupils.

Ministers will also set up a working group to look at music tuition fees, which can vary across councils.

Among issues it will examine is the question of charges for pupils sitting SQA music exams.

The EIS teaching union, which has been campaigning for "fair access" to music education for pupils in all parts of Scotland, welcomed the announcements.

Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan said every child should have the opportunity to learn an instrument.

"Currently, there are too many children being put off taking up music because of the cost of the instrument," he said.

Mr Allan said the new Instrumental Music Group would look at how music tuition is delivered.

He added: "The group's work will also examine how we ensure local musical traditions are catered for as well as studying what role the wider musical community can play in supporting our ambitions for our children."

The group, which will include representatives of parents and teachers, will start work in January and report back next summer.

Music tuition

In November the Scottish government announced plans for a detailed examination of instrumental music tuition in schools across Scotland, saying it wanted greater clarity on the issue.

Mr Allan made the announcement during a member's debate in parliament brought forward by former Labour leader Iain Gray.

The Labour MSP highlighted a situation where 24 out of 32 local authorities charged up to £340 for instrumental tuition.

Mr Gray stressed the message that schools should not just be about exams.

In September, Education Secretary Mike Russell told a Holyrood committee that charging fees for musical instrument tuition in schools was undesirable but difficult to avoid during a squeeze on public finances.

Responding to the latest announcements, the EIS said it welcomed the the extra cash and the creation of a working group which it said would "explore the damaging practice" of some local authorities charging pupils for presentation at SQA music exams.

General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The EIS represents most of Scotland's instrumental music teachers, and we have been campaigning for quite some time calling for fair access to music education for pupils in all parts of Scotland.

"It is encouraging that the Scottish government has taken the concerns raised in the EIS campaign on board and is willing to explore ways to create fairer access to music education for pupils across the country."

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