'Misinformation' clouding row over music instructor jobs, claims Scottish council chief

Consultation to be held before final decision on proposals in October

A Scottish council leader has claimed a row over controversial plans to outsource the jobs of music instructors has been clouded by “misinformation”.

Douglas Reid, the head of East Ayrshire Council’s SNP administration, spoke out after councillors agreed unanimously to consult on a package of cost-cutting measures.

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Concerns have been growing over a move to transfer the local authority’s instrumental music service to East Ayrshire Leisure Trust - an arm’s-length body created in 2013. The move would impact the service manager and 13.4 full-time equivalent jobs.

Trade unions have criticised the plans, with the Educational Institute of Scotland warning it could have ramifications for all instrumental music teachers currently employed under nationally agreed terms and conditions of service.

Meanwhile, campaigners fear it could also pave the way for the potential reintroduction of fees for music lessons.

They say transferring staff from an education department to a charitable body would create a “grey area” in the rules ensuring free tuition, and they have been alarmed by documents discussing “opportunities for income generation” as a result of the switch.

The SNP Government scrapped charges for learning an instrument in Scotland in 2021, with the decision subsequently resulting in a significant increase in the number of pupils taking lessons.

Councillors in East Ayrshire met on Tuesday to discuss the plans amid an estimated budget gap of £32 million to 2026/27. After the meeting, Councillor Reid told The Scotsman: “It was decided unanimously to look at the measures officers have brought in and the direction of travel. But nothing will be agreed until October, that’s the bottom line really.

“There has been a lot of misinformation put out there and things like that, so I think all sides wanted more clarity.

“The main curricular music tuition will be retained but what we’re trying to do is look at how we protect it for the future, and look at ways it can help with the third sector and other groups. What we are trying to do is protect it.

“We took comfort from the fact before any decision people will be consulted, including members of the young persons cabinet, as well as unions and others.”



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