School music tuition charge is here to stay

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There will be no U turn when it comes to charging for music instrument tuition in South Ayrshire Schools.

A petition from local campaigner Ralph Riddiough, requesting that South Ayrshire Council reverses its decision to introduce charges in August this year, was discussed by the council’s partnership panel, but they decided that the charges should remain.

Since the decision was made to introduce music tuition fees during budget setting at the beginning of the year, campaigners have been challenging it. In April the Children and Young People’s Commissioner was contacted and told there had not been any consultation with children and young people in considering the proposal. The Commissioner questioned whether a child rights impact assessment had been carried out and in August a retrospective assessment by the council concluded that “the decision will have had a negative impact on a small number of children and families who do not qualify for exemptions and who are nonetheless unable to afford to pay the fees”.

A range of concessions was introduced: no charges for any child or young person entitled to free school meals; 50% reduction for a second child, free for all subsequent children; free for anyone at S3 planning to progress to a national qualification; and free for any young person in the senior

phase taking a qualification in their instrument. The charge introduced is £200 per year - £5 per week over the 40 weeks of the school year.

On being told that “the council would require to fund the service by an additional amount of approximately £50,000 a year or risk losing staff as the

equivalent reduction in staffing would be required in order to balance the budget” the partnership panel agreed to continue the charges.