West Lothian music tuition fees to be waived for the rest of the school year

Music tuition fees are to be waived for the rest of the school year in West Lothian

Monday, 6th September 2021, 6:00 am
Stock photo by John Devlin.

News that the cost of tuition would be covered by the Scottish Government also highlighted a promise from Holyrood to look at future funding of core subjects including music classes.

While the news was welcomed by West Lothian Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick, he warned that the "jury was out” on whether future funding packages would come at the expense of other services.

West Lothian faced criticism from parents when it became one of the first local authorities to introduce fees in 2018. Fees were first waived after the restrictions of the pandemic lockdown were brought in and have been waived since as each new term has started.

In a report the council’s Education Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel, service manager Andrew Sneddon said: “The Scottish Government’s Plan for its first 100 days in office contained a commitment to abolish existing fees for Instrumental Music Tuition (IMT) in schools as well as those for ‘core curricular’ costs. Government officials have engaged with COSLA officers seeking to ensure that fees were removed before the start of the new academic term in August 2021.”

West Lothian Council will receive £195,000 from the agreed £5m funding in relation to the removal of IMT fees, phased across two financial years (£130,000 in financial year 2021/22, and £65,000 in financial year 2022/23.)

Fees income in 2019/20 totalled £290,000 so it will be necessary to receive an additional allocation of £95,000 from the ‘top-up’ funding for all costs of IMT to be met and for the agreed budget to balance.

EIS president Heather Hughes said: “We wholeheartedly welcome this. This is the true meaning of comprehensive education. Finally the Scottish Government has grasped that comprehensive education means education which is free for all so there are no limitations on any young person. Let’s hope they continue along this line.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “This is a one year settlement. We have to wait and see whether the Scottish Government is going to give sufficient monies for music tuition to get back where it was or whether cuts have to be made elsewhere. The jury’s out.”​​​​​​​