SNP members want ministers to fund free music tuition for all children in Scotland – and have tabled a motion ahead of the party conference next month.
With 25 of 32 Scottish local authorities charging for music lessons, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are being forced to give up their music education.
Now signatories including Joan McAlpine, MSP and convenor of Holyrood’s culture committee, have put pressure on ministers to address the inequality in music tuition. Last month a report showed as many as 100,000 children have been shut out of music education because of fees.
The motion says: “Conference reaffirms support for music tuition and urges the Scottish government to explore … music tuition and funding models that will promote equality of opportunity across all local authority schools.”
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Members hope this will lead politicians to tackle the knock-on effect council funding cuts have had on free music tuition.
The issue is widespread across the UK. More than two fifths of low-income families told the Musicians’ Union that music lessons are already well out of budget for them, with children from wealthy families twice as likely to earn an instrument than their disadvantaged peers.
Central government funding for local services in England was slashed by 36 per cent for 2019-20, according to the Local Government Association. This means English councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the government provided for social services in 2010.
A Scottish government spokesperson said Holyrood is “committed to working collaboratively to find solutions to help ensure instrumental music remains accessible to all”.