Removal of fees for music tuition is welcomed by north-east MSPs
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Fees for children learning a musical instrument at school will be removed thanks to more than £7 million funding from the Scottish Government.
Councils will also receive £6 million to waive core curriculum charges which can be levied on families for things including materials for home economics or theatre trips associated with drama qualifications.
The agreement with COSLA covers the 2021-22 academic year and marks the delivery of two further commitments for the first 100 days of this Government.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “My priority is to ensure the best possible outcomes for all of Scotland’s children and young people, whatever their background.
"All children should have the best start in life and the ability to take part in core elements of education should never be limited by a child’s ability to pay.
“The announcement means families will not see bills for musical tuition or core curriculum activities in the new school year. I will continue to work with COSLA and local authorities to develop a sustainable and funded model for future years.”
The definition of "core curriculum" is classroom-based activity within the eight core curriculum areas in the broad general education in primary and secondary school plus activity associated with preparation for SQA qualifications in the senior phase.
COSLA Children and Young People spokesman councillor Stephen McCabe, said: “Councils recognise the importance of instrumental music tuition for the learning and development of our children and young people.
"Where fees were in place for tuition this is due to a range of local pressures on core council budgets.
"The one year funding package agreed between COSLA leaders and Scottish Government will allow for the removal of fees in the coming academic year and the maintenance of existing levels of provision, so that fees and charges are not a barrier to learning an instrument.
“We welcome the commitment from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to work with COSLA and partners in the sector to consider the intent, impact, and broader implications of this Scottish Government policy intervention and to develop a model for the long-term sustainability of instrumental music tuition services across Scotland which must include sustainable funding arrangements for all councils.”
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has welcomed the move.
Ms Martin said: “The Scottish Government has made it a priority to ensure the best possible outcomes for children regardless of their background.
“Funding to support free music lessons and to assist with other charges is very welcome and necessary.
“It means families will not face added costs for children wishing to play musical instruments or take subjects where extra costs may have been incurred.
“We must do all we can to make sure there are no barriers to learning to play a musical instrument or craft.”
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam has also hailed the decision.
She said: “The rollout of the SNP’s 100 day plan continues as the Scottish Government announces the removal of fees for music tuition and other core activities, such as art and drama.
“This welcome announcement means that so many more families across Scotland will now be in the position to offer their children the opportunity to learn invaluable new lifelong skills.
“Particularly when it comes to core activities such as music, art and drama, it is linked to supporting our long-term goal of achieving a wellbeing economy, especially because of the transformative effect music, art and drama can have on the positive development of young people.
“This is something I had been a massive advocate for in my role as a councillor for Aberdeenshire, that is why I am delighted to support this change in my role now as the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast."