Comment: We should broaden kids’ horizons

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Life for today’s school children seems much busier than it was a generation ago.

Today’s youngsters rarely sit around watching Swap Shop on television on a Saturday morning like their parents used to do. Far more likely, you’ll see them heading out early for football coaching, gymnastics classes, drama lessons, or one of a hundred or more different activities on offer around the city.

We have all kinds of concerns about our children, from obesity to the issue over-protected ‘cotton wool kids’, but opportunities for them abound, especially for those with parents with deep pockets.

So does free music tuition have a key role to play for today’s kids? Is it a wise use of public money when the city is struggling to fund basic services?

The answer has to be a resounding yes. Firstly, there are many parents who cannot afford to send their children to a multitude of extra-curriculur activities. The cost of class fees and buying equimpment can quickly add up, especially when there is more than one child in the family. Free music tuition offers those children an oppportunity they would not otherwise have.

Other youngsters from more affluent backgrounds might sign up for more classes, but with so much on offer many will not choose music, and won’t learn about it apart from at school. Our schools should be about more than learning the three Rs. Good schools - like most of those in Edinburgh - will broaden their pupils horizons, introduce them to new things they might love. It happened to jazz star Tommy Smith when he was at school in Wester Hailes.

Today’s announcement means it will continue to happen to many more city youngsters. The £400,000 or so a year it costs must not to be sniffed at, but beyond essential services it is hard to think of many better wasy of spending the money.