The Scottish Parliament's Education and Skills Committee Inquiry into Musical Instrument Tuition in Schools

March 2019
COSLA and Cabinet Secretary John Swinney's responses to the Education and Skills Committee's Report have now been published.  Both responses do not address the issue of young people needing to learn two musical instruments (or voice) BEFORE they start on SQA courses - how can children and young people gain skills and enthusiasm to take music forward to qualifications if they have not had instrument tuition prior to S4? This disadvantages children who do not come from families with established interests in music and it risks excluding others because of the cost of instrument tuition and the instruments themselves. 
We know how much effort parents have put into campaigning and raising awareness of musical instrument tuition charges in schools - what a disappointment and a fudge!
You can read COSLA's response here and John Swinney's response here
February 2019

The guidance for local authorities on the provision of musical instrument tuition has now been published by COSLA, the Scottish Government and the Music Instrument Partnership Group. You can read it here. 

Because it is only guidance, it is weak, leaving decision-making still with local authorities. There is no national framework and no real clarity. On the positive, SQA qualification-related instrument tuition is to be funded and there should be no charging for students who have entitlement to Free School Meals.  Councils should also review their charging policies to make sure young people from families facing financial hardship are not prevented from learning an instrument. Communication with parents is to be clear and upfront.

However, there is no mention of how instrument tuition is to be funded to help young people on the path to SQA qualifications during the Broad General Education. Musical Education is the entitlement of all, but not music instrument tuition.

The impact of the ongoing variations in provision and the uncertainty for musical instrument tutors working in schools is recognised in the guidance - that this lack of clarity may reduce availability and opportunity all together. This is very disappointing.

22 January 2019

The Scottish Parliament's Education and Skills Committee report from its enquiry into music instrument tuition in Scottish state schools is available here. It sets out a range of recommendations, largely related to local authorities ensuring their services are inclusive, transparent and fair and also that SQA qualification-related tuition should comply with guidelines. The report is called A Note of Concern: The Future of Instrumental Music Tuition in Schools.

Many thanks to everyone for taking part in our Parents' Voice Survey - we were pleased to share your comments with the Committee.

1 November 2018

Thank you to the 729 parents who answered our survey on musical instrument tuition in schools. We recieved many passionate responses on the benefits of playing musical instruments, and concerns describing how not all children are able to access this, through the addition of fees or lack of places.

Based on our survey, we recommend:

  • National guidance to ensure consistency, inclusion and opportunity for all with transparency and openness about provision to parents and children
  • A level playing field for all children so that every child has the chance to enjoy learning to play a musical instrument or to sing (recognising voice as an instrument)
  • Specific action to identify means of ensuring children who are looked after or have additional support needs are not disadvantaged
  • A national focus on inclusion so that no child is left out
  • National and local recognition that the learning opportunity presented by musical instrument tuition for children is crucial for cognitive, personal and skills development
  • Research into the most equitable way to fund musical instruments and instrument tuition
  • An end to competitive selection practices – it is important that instrument tuition provides opportunities to join in and have new experiences

Read our full submission to the Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee here.