In tonight's Adjournment Debate (the final debate of the day, usually a topic of concern raised by a back-bench MP), I asked if it was right to charge pupils for music tuition. Surely we should be encouraging interest in creative opportunities for young people, not restricting it? In his summation, the Minister did agree that local councils "increasing the cost of instrumental music tuition... risks depriving many pupils of the pleasure of learning to play a musical instrument".
At the end of the day it is up to local councils to decide what to charge for these lessons. With Moray Council recently deciding to increase the cost of instrumental music tuition by 85%, I hope councils will give thought to the benefit of free tuition and whether this might be achievable.
It may not come as a surprise that the SNP-led South Ayrshire Council has also increased the cost of music tuition, which has excluded some people. Although it has made provision for the less well off, it has still put people out of pocket. At a time when creative subjects such as music have never been more important to individuals or to the economy, is the question not simply: why do we charge at all for musical instrument tuition lessons throughout schools in the UK? Should we not bring an end to charges throughout the United Kingdom? It is not necessary and we could give these people a great opportunity in music.
My hon. Friend leads me on to a recent report of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee, which looked at that point and several others. Importantly, the report examined the benefits of music education. Students contributing to the report pointed out the transferable skills that learning to play an instrument can build, such as dexterity, creative problem-solving and focus...