EIS warns councils that music cuts damage pupils' education
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has warned local authorities that cutting back on instrumental music teaching in schools is short-sighted and is having a detrimental impact on children’s educational experience.
Some Scottish local authorities, notably Fife and Midlothian, are already scaling back music instruction in their schools to cut costs. With the political push to cut public spending, music tuition in schools and the jobs of instrumental music instructors are increasingly under threat.
Speaking as news emerged of the scale of music instruction cutbacks in Midlothian, EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith said, "Following the announcement of radical cutbacks to music instruction in Fife, we are now witnessing a similar cull of music tuition in Midlothian schools.
"It seems that school music instruction is firmly in the sights of local authorities as they continue to slash education budgets for the year ahead. The loss of instrumental music instructors, with job losses and greatly reduced capacity for music tuition, will inevitably have a damaging impact on the educational opportunities for many pupils across the country.”
Mr Smith continued, "Music instructors in Midlothian were invited to interviews, effectively to interview for their own posts - even though it is clear that a number will be disappointed as their posts will be downgraded significant ly in terms of hours or even removed entirely.
"There is widespread dismay over the lack of meaningful consultation in advance of this process, with instructors being called to interviews without any advance knowledge of precisely what size of post they are interviewing for, or the scale of cuts being planned in their specific instrumental area. This caused a great deal of stress amongst music instructors, as they then had to await a letter or phone call to tell them if they still have a job.”
Mr Smith added, "The scale of the reductions in both Midlothian and Fife are such that they will have a major detrimental impact on the level of music instruction that can be offered to pupils in these areas. Learning to play a music instrument benefits children in many different ways such as increasing their confidence and enhancing their social skills and their abilities to work both as an individual and as a member of a larger group.
"Developing and applying such transferable skills across a wide range of curricular areas is central to the Curriculum for Excellence, so it is extremely worrying that many pupils might now miss out as a result of these damaging cuts to music instruction.”
Mr Smith continued, "It is not too late for the Councils in Midlothian and Fife to reverse their damaging cuts to the music instruction service. The sums of money they will save in making these cuts are comparatively small, yet the damage they will cause to music instruction and pupils’ educational experiences will be massive.
"It may be that Councils see music instruction as an easy target, where they can make savings without too much damage, but they are simply wrong in this assessment. The pupils, parents and staff in our schools deserve better and will not stand for such damaging cuts to the music instruction service.”
Mr Smith went on to say, "The EIS will continue to oppose these damaging cuts in Fife and Midlothian, as well as in any other Council area which seeks to make similar cuts to the music education service. In particular, the EIS will continue to fight against any prospect of compulsory redundancies amongst music instruction staff.
"We need to make a stand to protect music education in our schools for all that it offers to our young people and to the nation’s cultural heritage. Without continuing high-quality music instruction in our schools, many of our young people will be robbed of the opportunity to contribute to Scotland’s proud history of excellence in music and culture.”