Survey highlights detrimental impact of COVID on Instrumental Music in schools

A new survey of Instrumental Music Teachers (IMTs), carried out by the EIS, has highlighted the serious detrimental impact of COVID-19 on the provision of instrumental music teaching in schools across Scotland.

The EIS carried out the survey of IMTs last month and the survey report, published today, paints a worrying picture of a service facing significant short-term and long-term challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the key issues identified in the report include:

  • Concern over COVID-19 risk assessments not taking account of the specific nature of instrumental music tuition – for example a need for ample space and well-ventilated rooms.

  • Inconsistent approaches to COVID mitigations between local authorities, within authorities, and within individual schools.

  • Lack of resources and support provided to facilitate online instrumental music provision for pupils.

  • A disproportionate impact on provision of instrumental music tuition to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • An expectation that IMTs will deliver extra online teaching outwith school hours – creating substantial additional workload for this group of teaching professionals.

Commenting on the survey report, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “Instrumental music teaching has been under threat in many local authorities across Scotland for several years. From the results of our survey, it is clear that COVID-19 has, and continues to, pose many challenges for IMTs across the country,  particularly for those delivering teaching in voice, wind and brass, who are still waiting to hear whether they can safely return to face-to-face teaching in schools.’

“Members are concerned about the damaging impact of the pandemic on young people’s access to instrumental music tuition, particularly for those currently studying for SQA qualifications.  In addition, there are legitimate fears that reduction in provision, arising from the current crisis, could lead to fewer students learning music, with serious implications for the future of instrumental music service and for IMT jobs.”

He added, “Instrumental music is an important element of the curriculum, and one which offers a wide range of benefits for the young people in our schools and for our society as a whole. It is essential that the Scottish Government and local authorities are made aware of the difficulties facing IMTs and the provision of instrumental music in schools, and that they take the necessary steps to ensure that the service receives the support it requires so that our young people can receive the opportunities to learn music that they deserve.”

A copy of the EIS Instrumental Music Teacher survey report can be accessed via the EIS website.