Current COVID policy is placing Instrumental Music Students at disadvantage

A meeting of the EIS Instrumental Music Teachers (IMT) Network, held online today (Tuesday), has expressed serious concerns over the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of instrumental music tuition in schools across Scotland.

IMTs currently have limited access to schools as a result of COVID protection measures, with arrangements for the delivery of online provision varying significantly across the country, the reductions in provision causing concern around young people’s access to instrumental music, and about workload and job security for instrumental music teachers.

Amongst the key issues highlighted by IMTs in today’s meeting were:
• “In our authority, we are currently only able to teach in one school per day, meaning that pupils are receiving tuition far less frequently”.
• “At present, we are not allowed in schools at all. We may get into High Schools next week, on a one school per day basis. Currently all tuition is delivered online, which is far from ideal.”
• “We don’t currently have permission for online lessons. We have no idea when we will see our pupils again, or even when we will be able to teach them online. We have pupils on SQA courses who are scheduled to sit exams next year, and we can’t teach them at the moment.”
• “The current situation is unfair on SQA pupils in schools where there is currently no IMT provision allowed. This is placing these pupils at a significant disadvantage.”
• “Instrumental music teachers are basically in the dark regarding SQA courses – it is still not clear what we are expected to be delivering for young people under the current arrangements.”

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “It is clear that Instrumental Music Teachers are frustrated by their current lack of access to schools, and the impact on the provision of instrumental music tuition for pupils. IMTs are particularly concerned about the impact on young people who are currently studying for SQA music qualifications and who may be receiving no instrumental tuition at all. The picture across the country is extremely mixed.”

He continued, “In addition to concerns over the educational impact on students, IMTs are concerned over their wellbeing and the need to balance providing the service, and earning an income, while protecting their own – and their students’ – health. There is also a legitimate concern that the current crisis could lead to fewer students learning music, with serious implications for the future of the instrumental music service and for IMT jobs.”

Mr Flanagan added, “Clearly, the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff must remain the top priority, and appropriate COVID safety measures require to be put in place. Our IMT members have highlighted concerns over a need for larger and better ventilated rooms for IMT provision, for the safety of pupils and staff. There is also a need for adequate provision for handwashing and physical distancing, and a requirement for risk assessments to take specific account of the requirements of Instrumental Music Provision.”