Music tuition fees in Scotland may breach UN rights

SCOTLAND’S charges for ­music tuition in schools may be in danger of contravening the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, according to the Scottish ­Government’s children’s ­commissioner.

SCOTLAND’S charges for ­music tuition in schools may be in danger of contravening the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, according to the Scottish ­Government’s children’s ­commissioner.

Tam Baillie says that children should be afforded equal opportunities in music lessons, no matter their background.

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Indicating his support for Scotland on Sunday’s Let The Children Play campaign, Baillie says: “We have an obligation to uphold children’s rights as mapped out in UNCRC. It’s really important because it’s about the development of the whole child.

“Music can be an easy hit [for raising funds], but this is about developing rounded children and a rounded nation. Children should have equal chances. We should be positively asserting children’s rights. It’s about education and dignity.”

Baillie’s intervention comes as the body that represents Scotland’s 32 councils, the Convention of Local Authorities (Cosla), announces an investigation into local authority instrumental tuition charging policies. The move follows the launch of the Scotland on Sunday campaign to reduce – and finally abolish – the charges being made for music tuition acrossthe country.

The postcode lottery system means that 24 out of the 32 local authorities now charge between £95 and £340 per year for instrumental music lessons. Five councils also charge children sitting SQA music exams tuition fees with a sixth due to introduce SQA charges next year – effectively charging children to sit an exam. Cosla was criticised last week for failing to appear before the Scottish Parliament’s education and culture committee to give evidence on instrumental music tuition. The organisation said it would now launch a survey into services across Scotland.

Douglas Chapman, Cosla’s education spokesperson, said: “Cosla will carry out work with its members to better understand the challenge of delivering music tuition both in and out of school across Scotland.

“We will be more than happy to discuss this work with any interested parties once that work is completed.”

Baillie, who writes about his support for Let the Children Play in today’s Scotland on Sunday, said charging children to sit exams was wrong.

“It’s so obviously inequitable,” he said. “It’s not the kind of Scotland we want to develop. We want a Scotland where there is equal opportunity for all of our children.”

Mark Traynor, head of the Educational Instute of Scotland’s instrumental music teachers network said: “We welcome Cosla’s announcement and would be happy to meet with them to dicuss this survey when it is completed.”