The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has today urged North Lanarkshire Council to think again over budget cuts to Instrumental Music Tuition and Additional Support Needs (ASN) prior to the Council Budget Meeting on Monday.

The Instrumental Music Service provides a huge variety of musical opportunities and experiences for pupils in North Lanarkshire. It ranges from lessons on a wide range of instruments for around 2600 pupils to orchestras, wind bands, choirs, traditional music and an award-winning pipe band.

Speaking about the cuts, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “Not only do these opportunities provide a real lifelong enjoyment and love of music in the young people involved; they also provide a sense of achievement, confidence and pride not only for pupils but for parents and carers. These showcase musical events extend well beyond North Lanarkshire and demonstrate that music is not just for the privileged but for all children in Scotland. That is why the EIS is calling for Instrumental Music Tuition to be a statutory function for Councils and for the Scottish Government to provide adequate funding to schools.

“The discipline of learning a musical instrument and participating in orchestras and bands has educational benefits that extend into the classroom, with improvements in pupils’ concentration and attainment levels. Evidence also suggests that learning a musical instrument can have a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing.”

Commenting on cuts to ASN Mr Flanagan stated, “At a time when there has been a year on year increase in the number of children with Additional Support Needs in both primary and secondary, it makes no sense for North Lanarkshire Council to consider cutting the number of Additional Support Needs Teachers. The most disadvantaged and vulnerable children deserve the very best education and these cuts are likely to reduce essential support for children and lead to a widening of the attainment gap. At present, the requests for learning support far outweigh the capacity to address pupils’ needs and cutting ASN Teachers will only exacerbate the situation.

“It is clear that North Lanarkshire Council is implementing these cuts without properly consulting the communities it serves and the trade unions whose members deliver these services with diminishing resources. North Lanarkshire Council must ensure they are listening to all viewpoints when making difficult decisions in a climate of continued austerity.”