West Lothian council has voted to retain strings and percussion tuition in schools through the introduction of an across the board fee of £354 a year per child for all music disciplines - scrapping proposals to keep tuition free, but axe strings and percussion lessons.
The council said it wanted to keep instrument lessons free for youngsters, but argued that to do so, it would need to cut lessons in percussion and stringed instruments entirely. However, it was forced to poll parents by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, which expressed concern that children’s human rights had been breached. A total of 53 per cent of parents voted to introduce fees and keep existing instruments.
Yvonne Hall, spokeswoman for the Save Our Strings campaign, which has lobbied to keep said, “We are pleased that the Education Executive has recognised that people would rather pay for a service than see it cut altogether. Just a few months ago, IMS in West Lothian was set to be scrapped all together and we have, in fact, been left with a 50 per cent cut in funding. It is disappointing to see a service which has taken over 25 years to develop be decimated in such a fashion.
She added: “We believe the £354 is vastly inflated. We had worked out a figure of £5 per week to cover the first year’s costs while we launch a Charitable Trust which would be able to apply for funding not available to the council and allow us to mitigate the impact of charges.”