The MU reported last week that Midlothian Council is proposing to cut the funding it contributes to music education.
The announcement was met with strong opposition from teachers, parents, pupils and the MU who gathered for a protest outside the Council building in Dalkeith on Tuesday 31 January.
Now we have heard that several other councils in Scotland are considering equivalent cuts.
No way free tuition can be offered to all children if cuts go ahead
Local authorities receive ringfenced funding from the Scottish Government to make free instrumental tuition available in schools. However, this money does not cover the entire cost, meaning that local authorities must use their own budgets to supplement it. Most local authorities in fact spend more of their own budgets on music education than is covered by the Government grant.
Local authorities are now facing drastic budget cuts. As a result, some appear to have decided to cut their music education spending and instead rely only on the Government grant. But since the grant covers only a modest proportion of the cost of delivering the free tuition – typically around 30-40% – there is no way that free tuition can be offered to all children if the cuts go ahead.
The MU is gravely concerned that the withdrawal of local authority funding for music education would transform instrumental tuition in Scotland into a primarily parent funded service, completely undermining the Scottish Government’s pledge to offer free tuition to all. The cuts would also affect our members’ jobs and cause serious long-term damage to the musical ecosystem in Scotland.
Put simply, the cuts must not go ahead
MU National Organiser for Education, Chris Walters, said: “It is tragic that some Scottish local authorities view music education as dispensable so soon after the Scottish Government’s historic pledge to offer free tuition for all. It is vital that the Scottish Government enters into urgent dialogue with local authorities to ensure that its pledge can continue to be delivered.
“The Scottish Government does not appear to have considered that local authority cuts might have this effect, revealing the precarious nature of the current funding arrangements. This is a wake-up call to ensure that music education is more robustly provided for from now on.
“Put simply, the cuts must not go ahead. If necessary, the Scottish Government must provide additional funding.”
Speaking on the cuts in Midlothian, MU Regional Organiser for Scotland and Northern Ireland Caroline Sewell said:
“This week we attended a demonstration in Dalkeith in protest against proposed 60% cuts to the music service. The plans would be a devastating blow to the community and ultimately render the music service completely dysfunctional and impossible to deliver.
“A formal consultation on Midlothian Council’s proposal is due to be launched imminently and we will be sharing information on how to take part in that along with key points for members to raise.”
Members who are affected by any of the proposed cuts should get in touch with Caroline and the regional team.