MSPs back free music tuition campaign and pledge ‘funding solutions’

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LEARNING and skills minister Alasdair Allan told the Scottish Parliament last week that he was “committed to finding solutions” to the issues raised by Scotland on Sunday’s Let The Children Play campaign.

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The promise came as part of a parliamentary debate on the value of instrumental music tuition brought forward by former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray, which praised this newspaper’s campaign.

In a speech on Wednesday Gray said: “Instrument tuition should be part of the core provision of our schools and should therefore be provided without charge. If we think that schools are just about getting pupils through exams, our aspiration is narrow and our ambition limited.”

During the debate Allan renewed his commitment to a review into the charging policies, which was announced in this newspaper in September. “I am committed to finding solutions to the issues raised by the campaign,” Allan said.

Liz Smith, education spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, also spoke during the debate in support of the campaign, and said: “Music is definitely not to be treated as an optional extra.

“We know that music is, in principle, firmly embedded in the Curriculum for Excellence, but we also know that its provision is patchy, particularly when it comes to instrumental tuition, and that that situation relates largely to costs.”

Other MSPs who contributed to the debate and supported Scotland on Sunday’s campaign included Labour MSP Jenny Marra, former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader ­Tavish Scott and Labour MSPs Malcolm Chisholm and former culture minister Patricia ­Ferguson.