Music tuition fees are to be waived for the remainder of the school year in West Lothian
The news that tuition fees would be covered by the Scottish government also underscored Holyrood’s promise to look into future funding of basic subjects, including music lessons.
Although the news was welcomed by West Lothian Council chief Lawrence Fitzpatrick, he warned the “jury is out” on whether future fundraising programs will come at the expense of others. services.
West Lothian was criticized by parents when it became one of the first local authorities to introduce fees in 2018.
Funding music tuition fees was one of the main topics where boards were faced with the “heart-wrenching” choice of charging fees or severely restricting tuition fees.
The fees were first waived after the introduction of the pandemic lockdown restrictions and have been waived since the start of each new term.
In a report from the council’s education policy development and review committee, services manager Andrew Sneddon said: for ‘core program’ costs.
“Scottish government officials have engaged with COSLA agents to ensure the fees are removed before the start of the new academic term in August 2021.”
The report adds: “The abolition of fees aims to ensure that financial vulnerability is not a barrier to participation in LMI. The Improvement Department conducts an annual survey of MIT’s offering. The latest survey for 2019/2020 found that twenty-five local authorities were charging fees and seven were not.
“There is a lot of local variation when it comes to fees and concessions, as LMI was designed and developed by local authorities exercising their local discretion, including in fee approaches. “
West Lothian Board will receive £ 195,000 of the agreed £ 5million funding in relation to the waiver of IMT over two fiscal years (£ 130,000 in FY2021/22 and £ 65,000 in FY2021/22 and £ 65,000 in FY2021/22 during the 2022/23 financial year.)
Fee income in 2019/20 was £ 290,000 and therefore it will be necessary to receive an additional allocation of £ 95,000 from the ‘top-up’ funding for all LMI costs to be covered and for the agreed budget balances.
A future funding model will need to be developed, added Mr Sneddon.
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Schools were urged to remove base costs across the curriculum in secondary schools. These include paying for materials in subjects such as crafts and art.
SNP Education spokesperson Andrew Miller said: “I welcome this decision. I appreciate that there is a long way to go. Can I be assured that we will not see any reduction in the choices for these subjects ”
Mr Sneddon said the funding guaranteed existing benefit levels, so there was no reason to assume there would be a cut.
EIS President Heather Hughes said, “We warmly welcome this. This is the true meaning of integral education. Finally, the Scottish government has understood that full education means free education for all, so there are no limitations for young people. Hopefully they continue on this path.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: “We, like many others, have been forced to introduce heartbreaking cuts. I am glad that the pressure and the drop in numbers have revealed the desperate need for the arts and especially music lessons in schools.
He said West Lothian had a proud record in Scottish and UK music competitions, pointing out that his daughter’s marching band had gone to Yorkshire and beaten competing local bands.
“It’s like the Pumpherston Juniors are going to Barcelona and winning the European Cup, that’s the standard they are up against,” he said.
He added, “This is a one-year settlement. We have to wait and see if the Scottish government will give enough money to get music lessons back to where they were or if cuts need to be made elsewhere. The jury is out.