CLOSING a world-renowned music school in the centre of Edinburgh in order to redistribute musical education elsewhere in the city will prevent children from accessing tuition across the country, according a group leading the charge to save it.
Campaigners say the cash-strapped City of Edinburgh Council has been “deceptive” in its claim that shutting the esteemed City of Edinburgh Music School and rehoming it in four schools across the Capital will allow greater access to musical education.
They also said the council had overlooked the fact the school provides a “national centre of excellence” for musically gifted children from all over Scotland.
The local authority hopes to save as much as £383,000 with the closure of the school – which helped launch the early musical careers of Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson and Celtic fusion star Martyn Bennett – as part of a new wave of cuts.
However, the parents of pupils attending the school want plans to redistribute services taken off the table before the council’s finance and resource committee meet again on November 7.
Lindsay Law, vice chair of the parent council at Broughton High and Flora Stevenson’s Primary, said: “The proposals put forward by the council are a cut to both the instrumental music service, which has a wide reach and the national centre of excellence which has a narrower reach because of the type of education it provides to children who are musically gifted.”
“We feel the council are being deceptive in that the proposal that they are making will cut both services and neither increase equity nor improve excellence across the city and will deny the rest of Scotland access to what was a national centre of excellence.”
She continued: “It’ll be damaging to pupils who want to come into general instrumental tuition, it won’t spread that any further than already exists. In fact, it will concentrate it in some localities which means children may find it harder to access that tuition, especially if they have additional support needs, or if they are in areas of the city where travel costs would cause an issue.”
The campaign to save the school has already received backing from alumni including jazz legend Tommy Smith and cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber.
Pupils protested outside the city chambers over the weekend, holding an impromptu performance at the entrance to the building.
Tony Gutierrez, who has two children at the school, added: “I don’t know if the council realise how big a part this school plays in the lives of the children and parents around it. We relocated from Balerno so our children could attend, but some have come from further, England, across Europe, this is a huge part of their lives.”
Edinburgh North and Leith MP Deidre Brock described the council plans as “short-sighted”, adding: “This isn’t just an Edinburgh School, it’s a National Centre of Excellence and is funded by the Scottish Government – if the council closes the school it will lose the funding so there would be no saving from closing the school.”
“The council must give assurance the school will stay open and will continue to provide the intensive music training that has already allowed so many pupils to make a career in music.”