A threat to musc tuition in Fife schools as part of cost-cutting proposals has been branded “unacceptable” by the region’s largest teaching union.
Union leaders with the Fife EIS and its members in the Kingdom’s music service have told The Courier they are “fully committed” to opposing proposals which they say could be the beginning of the end for instrumental instruction.
Fife Council’s education service has insisted a reduction in music tuition as part of a package of budget saving measures is merely an option and no decision has been taken.
However, David Farmer, Fife EIS publicity officer, said the now “apparently annual” axe hanging over music tuition will not be tolerated by the union or its members.
Mr Farmer said the current proposal on the table would mean the termination of instrumental music tuition in the primary sector and from S1 to S3 in secondary schools.
“The proposal would lead to the complete removal of tuition, apart from those students studying for SQA examinations, and could see the loss of the whole service within a very few years,” he warned.
“Such proposals don’t just strike at those families on low incomes, they strike at the very central role of instrumental music in the culture of Fife.
“They strike at the power of music to help young people to achieve. They strike at the power of music to close the attainment gap.”
Mr Farmer said the latest threat to music tuition has emerged in budget proposals put forward by Fife’s education and children’s services for the 2019/20 Fife Council budget – and comes amid warnings about the impact of cuts on staff morale, stress levels, class sizes and pupil choice.
He said: “Fifers will recently have enjoyed a festive concert or musical event at their local school.
“Without the hard work and dedication of teachers of instrumental music and, of course, the pupils, such events simply would not happen.
“Now these same dedicated professionals face a seemingly uncertain future.
“At a time when other Scottish local authorities are scrapping charging regimes to make music more accessible to our young people, Fife Council could be proposing a very different course of action.
“Proposals which could make the good cheer of a festive concert a thing of the past.
“Along with our music service members, who yet again are having to endure the stress of employment uncertainty inflicted on them by the education and children’s service, we will be campaigning to overturn this proposal.”
Council co-leader Councillor David Ross stressed there is a significant difference between savings proposals put forward by officers and what will be acceptable to the joint administration.
He said: “In particular they should look at what savings have been rejected by councillors in previous years before jumping to conclusions – the music service being a case in point.”
His comments were echoed by fellow co-leader Councillor David Alexander, who added: “We face this speculation every year. We also have to put forward a balanced budget. Any suggestions on how we achieve that would be welcome.”