A Fife Councillor has launched a petition appealing to Council leaders to reject proposals to “decimate” music in Fife schools.
The proposal to remove music tuition for all pupils except those studying music for an SQA qualification has been made by Fife’s Education and Children’s Services Directorate in response to a demand to all parts of Fife Council to identify savings which the administration will use to set its budget in February.
This measure would produce an expected saving of £410,000 in 2018/19, rising to £615,000 in 2019/20. It would mean cutting the full-time equivalent of 16.8 posts so that the current instrumental tutors would all lose their jobs (1).
Councillor Linda Holt launched the online petition and facebook campaign in response to approaches from worried parents and teachers.
The petition asks the co-leaders of Fife Council, Councillors David Alexander and David Ross, to reject the destructive proposal to cut all music instrumental tuition in Fife schools and safeguard music for all our children, now and in the future.
Cllr Holt commented:
“Cutting all instrumental tuition in schools except for those pupils taking SQA Music will decimate musical opportunities for Fife’s children and young people.
“Learning any instrument will become an exclusive activity, reserved for those who can find and pay for a private teacher.
“Only these pupils will have the option of taking SQA Music at high school. Pursuing further study in music, at school or college, will be closed off to children unless their parents can afford years of private tuition.
“Starved of upcoming players, school and youth orchestras and bands will struggle to survive and become increasingly elitest.”
Cllr Holt added:
“As regular as clockwork, getting rid of instrumental teaching pops up in Fife’s annual budget proposals. It goes back to at least 2010 (2); each time pupils, parents, musicians and educationalists protest and the cut is softened but the Music Service is still hit (3).
“As it is, only a small minority of children get the chance to learn an instrument in Fife schools and their parents have had to cover a 44% hike in fees in the last two years (4).
“No education service worthy of its name would dispense with instrumental instruction in schools. It has an absolutely crucial role in getting children to take up instruments, to join in group music-making and to study for formal qualifications in music. All these activities are scientifically proven to increase educational attainment across the board. The net effect will be to all but wipe out musical achievement in our schools.
“Removing instrumental provision flies in the face of the Education and Children’s Directorate explicit priorities: Educational Outcomes; Employability Skills; Equality and Equity; Enhancing Opportunities for our most vulnerable groups and individuals.
“If this cut goes through, hundreds of children will give up their instruments, thousands more will never even get the chance to start one.
“Fife’s instrumental teachers have worked their socks off to protect their pupils from years of “efficiency savings”. Now they look set to become the first Fife Council employees to face compulsory redundancy.
“When in opposition in the past, Labour and the SNP took to the streets in defence of music education in Fife. Now they are in office, it’s time to take seriously their responsibility to children, parents and teachers and recognise the value of music with hard cash.”
(1) From: Education & Children’s Services Directorate / A Better Connected Directorate Our Financial Strategy 16 November 2017 Version:Final
(2) Eg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bucM3gXaMx4
(3) Eg. https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/fife-music-tuition-service-threat-lifted-1-3128360
(5) Eg. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/oct/03/school-results-music-bradford