Midlothian music tuition decision welcomed

The planned cuts were originally reversed in February after this protest outside Midlothian House.
The planned cuts were originally reversed in February after this protest outside Midlothian House.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has welcomed the unanimous decision of Midlothian councillors to put plans for a restructuring of the local authority music service on hold, pending a full review of the service.

Scotland’s largest teaching union, which has a long-standing commitment to defending Instrumental Music Teaching, is now calling for a radical rethink, following Tuesday’s decision.

Midlothian Council had reignited proposals to become the first Scottish council to entirely cut provision of music and dance tuition in schools from next year. However, councillors decided on Tuesday to drop the plans, for now.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “It’s good news that Midlothian councillors have decided not to press ahead with creating a ‘music collaborative’ hived off from the local authority. In our view that would amount to privatisation of a local authority service by the back door and would be completely unacceptable.

“We note that the decision is to exempt the plans from the medium-term financial strategy until further consideration has taken place. We trust that this hiatus isn’t a ruse to enable the same proposals to be reheated and served up for a second time.

“We would urge that the council think very carefully about whether any further proposals they bring forward will enhance excellence and equity in our schools, or instead entrench inequality of access to the creative arts and result in highly skilled music teachers losing their jobs.

“It is telling that uptake of music lessons fell by 39% since the authority increased fees. We have always believed charging regimes to be not only unfair but also counter-productive. We would also condemn restricting music lessons to only those pupils studying for SQA Music qualifications – this is self-defeating.

“We trust that Instrumental Music Teachers will be included in any future conversations on how Midlothian Council can build a sustainable music service.”