Review ordered over plans to cut school music tuition in Midlothian

Midlothian Council will review plans to axe the provision of music and dance education after councillors cited the need for “further conversation” on the proposals.

Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 12:51 pm
Plans initially called for music tuition to be scrapped for school pupils unless they were sitting SQA exams in the subject.

A document put before members at a full council meeting on Tuesday suggested slashing the number of music teachers employed by the authority from 11 to three and cutting music tuition for all except those pupils studying for an Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) exam in music in an attempt to meet a budget shortfall.

But councillors unanimously opted to exempt the plans from the medium term financial strategy until further consideration could take place.

SNP cllr Kelly Parry said it was “great” to see cross-party support for the amendment, but acknowledged “hard work was still to be done”.

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The decision comes just months after initial proposals to privatise musical education were thrown out over widespread opposition.

Midlothian Council increased the cost of music lessons last year, with fees rising to more than £200 a year for instrument tuition in primary and high schools, leading to a 39 per cent drop in the number of pupils signing up.

The Council is the only authority in Scotland to charge individual schools £700 a year fees for instrumental lessons for youngsters sitting SQA examinations in music, who under Scottish Government regulations, must not have to pay for their own tuition

A paper presented at Tuesday’s meeting stated the income received was £165,000 from parents and £290,000 from recharging schools for pupils undertaking SQA exams - making a total of £455,000.

However, it argued that more cuts were necessary for the service to run "within budget" at £211,000.

But members have now decided to revisit the plans, noting that “clearly further discussions are needed” before a final decision could be made.