ELECTION: Scottish Liberal Democrats call for music tuition to be free 


Music makes the world go round, but some councils refuse to fund lessons for pupils.

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Liberal Democrats have 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 figures showing the number of pupils receiving council instrumental music tuition is at its lowest level since annual surveys began.

At one council, annual tuition is £524 for group lessons and another which introduced fees of £354 per year the number of pupils receiving tuition halved

Beatrice Wishart said: “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.”

Meanwhile, responding to the SQA’s statement that “there is no requirement to replicate full formal exams or prelims this year” Beatrice Wishart, left, said:  “Trust between teachers and education bodies is at an all-time low.

“The SQA have spent weeks replicating exams in all by name and expecting teachers to carry this plan out for less than minimum wage.

“Last year the SQA made an almighty mess and only a public outcry persuaded them to change course. Teachers and pupils deserve our support once again in the face of the SQA chopping and changing at the last minute once again”

On youth employment, LibDem leader Willie Rennie has launched the party’s Young Persons Job Guarantee for every 16–24-year-old – where all young Scots will have access to a job or training.

The ambitious scheme is part of the party’s wider plans to put recovery first. 

The announcement comes against a backdrop which showed a 6% fall in the employment rate amongst young people across Scotland between January 2020 and December 2020 – a much bigger fall than the UK average of 1.8%.

The fall in employment rate amongst young women in Scotland was higher than young men, at 7.1% 

The LibDems have committed to deliver an additional 2,000 graduate apprenticeships with small businesses, as well as offering new jobs through public agencies and our programmes for the creative industries, and in other target sectors such as low carbon, care, education and artificial intelligence. 

He added: “We need to take action to stop a jobs crisis and put recovery first. We will kick start investment to boost new jobs in clean-tech and green energy to future-proof careers. 

“The SNP are letting down young people. The last year has been tough but the government’s own report shows a drop in jobs for young people in Scotland that is three times worse than the UK average. There can be no excuse for this.

“The SNP have taken their eye off the ball. Instead of a needle-sharp focus on jobs and the recovery, they are obsessed with creating uncertainty and division with years of arguments about independence: Scotland’s young people deserves

Responding to the UK Government’s Supreme Court legal challenge, Willie Rennie said: “This is petty and spiteful politics from the Conservatives.

“When the best thing they have to offer is a legal assault on children’s rights, you know you are looking at a party who are dead in the water.”

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