New funding arrangements have been agreed to continue providing high-quality instrumental music tuition in East Lothian schools.

A charge of £280 per year will be introduced in the new academic session, with a number of exemptions and discounts in place. This will ensure the service continues – alongside and separate to the music curriculum taught in the classroom.

The charge for instrumental music tuition can be paid in 10 instalments of £28 – with children receiving 30 lessons in return.

A number of exemptions and discounts will apply:

  • Free tuition for pupils who are in receipt of free school meals and/or clothing grant
  • A dedicated bursary scheme that supports low income families (that are not eligible for free school meals)
  • Free tuition for pupils who are looked after children within the East Lothian Council’s social care system
  • Free tuition for pupils using their tutored instrument in instrumental music instruction towards an SQA qualification in secondary years S4-S6
  • A concessionary rate of £240 for any sibling of a full fee paying pupil

The council will continue to spend around £700,000 on this discretionary service with the charges recovering around half of the total cost incurred.

Shamin Akhtar, Cabinet Spokesperson for Education, said:

“It’s always a pleasure to see the passion, enthusiasm and confidence of pupils performing their chosen instrument at a school concert or in the community. That’s why we’re determined to continue providing high-quality instrumental music tuition to our children – and for it to be accessible.

“Like all councils, we have significant financial challenges. At a time of increased demand for council services, new policy obligations and inflationary costs, the council has been left with a multi-million pound funding gap and needs to make savings and/or raise additional income.

“We’ve been looking closely at the best delivery of instrumental tuition and have come up with a way forward which is focused on fairness, inclusiveness and affordability.

“While I would rather maintain free instrumental music tuition for those children who receive it, most other councils have already introduced charges. We know from our budget consultation that people would rather see us charge than reduce services. One local authority charges £524 per year – the cost in East Lothian will be significantly less.

“Importantly, a number of exemptions or discounts will apply. This will ensure the service continues – alongside the music curriculum taught in the classroom. This will enable us to move forward with instrumental music tuition which remains accessible for all, affordable and enriches the school experience for many more children across the county.”

Instrumental music tuition is a discretionary service provided by East Lothian Council and is separate to the entitlement to a music curriculum taught within the classroom.

It is available from P4 to S6 in a wide range of instruments including upper and lower strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, piano, guitar and pipes.

The decision to introduce charging for instrumental tuition was made at the full council meeting on 13 February, as part of agreeing a budget for 2018/19. The budget was passed after a majority of Elected Members voted in favour. This followed a public budget consultation - which received almost 1,000 responses.

At today’s meeting Cabinet was asked to approve the charge level – which will generate income equivalent to around half the cost of providing this discretionary service. This is within the remit and powers of Cabinet.

Published: Tuesday, 12th June 2018