Scotland politics

School music tuition 'to be reviewed'

A detailed examination of instrumental music tuition in schools across Scotland has been announced.

Learning and Skills Minister Alasdair Allan told MSPs the government wanted greater clarity on the issue.

The comments came during a member's debate brought forward by former Labour leader Iain Gray.

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

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

He said learning an instrument was enriching for pupils and warned removing free tuition makes "our ambitions for our children very narrow indeed".

The former Labour leader also recounted time he spent in Cambodia immediately after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

He said "the people of Cambodia were opening schools of dance and music" because they understood the Khmer Rouge had "killed the musicians first".

Closing the debate, Mr Allan said: "I absolutely agree music and learning to play a musical instrument can play a key role in a child's education."

He stressed that no child should be denied the chance to develop their musical talent due to their background, but said that provision of instruments provided in schools varied across Scotland as did charging for musical instrument tuition.

The minister said: "This government is committed to working with local authorities to find a way forward in this matter.

"We need to establish greater clarity regarding the position on charging for instrumental music tuition around the country and our first priority is to examine the position for pupils undertaking SQA national qualifications."

Mr Allan said the Scotland on Sunday newspaper's Let the Children Play campaign had raised a number of important issues as had the debate at Holyrood.

He said: "I am committed to to finding solutions to the issues raised by the campaign."

The minister added: "The matter of the provision of instrumental music tuition in schools, something which varies widely in Scotland and is a complicated matter, is one that the government is committed to examining in detail."

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