Scottish Liberal Democrats today called for music tuition to be made free in schools to encourage participation and equal access.
Launching the policy which will be in the party's manifesto, education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart highlighted TES Scotland figures showing:
- the number of pupils receiving council instrumental music tuition is at its lowest level since annual surveys began
- in Clackmannanshire annual tuition is £524 for group lessons
- When West Lothian introduced fees of £354 per year the number of pupils receiving tuition halved
Beatrice Wishart commented:
“Scotland has a rich musical heritage, and I would hate to see that become the preserve of a select few.
“Astronomical charges are preventing pupils from learning to play an instrument. There is no doubt that as tuition costs have increased there has been a sharp decline in participation.
"An education in music helps pupils develop a lifelong passion. There is also substantial research showing the benefits for cognitive development, fine motor skills and confidence.
“The difference between SNP and Liberal Democrat proposals is that the SNP have spent 14 years cutting local authority budgets, making it harder for children and young people to have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and overlooking the importance of this experience.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to put the education recovery first. That means giving every pupil access to a world class education in every subject.”