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Views of families sought over music tuition options

Families of pupils who currently receive instrumental music tuition are being encouraged to share their views on proposed changes to the service.

West Lothian Council has sent a survey to all families of pupils who receive tuition to ask for their preference on the future shape of the instrumental music service.

Families are asked to carefully consider and discuss the four options set out, and return the survey with their preference, clearly marked with one cross (x), by 4pm on Friday 11 May 2018.

In April, Education Executive instructed officers to survey families who receive tuition on four possible revised models of instrumental music provision for West Lothian, as well as engage with the young people involved. 

An approved budget of £0.5 million was previously approved by the council in February, for a revised model of instrumental music provision which maintains a substantial level of tuition.

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: "We would encourage families to carefully consider the survey, and agree which of the options would be their preference.

"The views we receive, along with the engagement carried out with the young people, will help to agree the new instrumental music service for the future, within available resources.  

"Families should mark only one of the options with a cross (x) to state their preference, and return it to us by 4pm on Friday 11 May. This is the only way to guarantee your views will be taken into account when a decision is made.

"We are facing estimated budget savings of £65million over the next five years, so it is essential we make savings across the council to allow us to balance our budget. The money we receive from the Scottish Government is significantly less than what we need to cover rising costs for our growing young and older populations in particular.

"We are one of very few local authorities in Scotland, who still offer free instrumental music tuition, with the majority of councils now charging for lessons. Instrumental music is not a statutory service therefore does not have to be provided by the council, and we do not currently provide tuition in every musical discipline."

The four proposals put forward are: 

Option 1

Brass, Piping and Woodwind tuition would continue free.  No tuition would be provided in Percussion and Strings.  10.5 full time equivalent staff will be employed within the available budget of £500,000, split between Brass, Piping and Woodwind.  Some reduction in pupil numbers would be necessary, and would be achieved by reducing the intake of new pupils.  It may be necessary to reduce frequency of lessons or increase tuition group sizes.

Option 2

As above and additionally that schools could provide tuition in Percussion and Strings on a chargeable basis where demand exists, potentially leading to the retention of some Percussion and Strings instructor posts.  A charge of £484 per child, per year would be a realistic estimate to meet costs with no reduction in service provision.  No charge would be made for children entitled to free school meals.

Option 3

Brass, Piping, Strings and Woodwind tuition would be offered free, but tuition in Brass, Piping and Woodwind would be reduced to retain some free Strings tuition.  It would not be possible to provide tuition to all those currently receiving tuition in all of these instruments.  10.5 full time equivalent staff will be employed within the available budget of £500,000, split between Brass, Piping, Strings and Woodwind.   No tuition would be provided in Percussion.  Reducing the intake of new pupils would be necessary, and it may be necessary to reduce frequency of lessons or increase tuition group sizes.

Option 4

Charging is introduced for all children and young people across all instruments to fully meet the agreed saving of £493,000.  20.5 full time equivalent staff could be employed and the level of service provided could be unaltered.   A charge of £354 per child, per year would be a realistic estimate, to meet costs with no reduction in service provision.  No charge would be made for children entitled to free school meals.