Charges Up and Pupil Numbers Down

An Improvement Service report has highlighted the ongoing challenge facing Instrumental Music education across Scotland. Results from the Instrumental Music Service Survey May-July 2018 show that:

  • there was “a sharp increase in fees compared to previous years” in 2018/19

  • 38% of local authorities raised tuition rates in 2018/19, including the introduction of fees in several local authorities where previously tuition was offered free of charge

  • there has been “an overall increase in fees across Scotland…the highest of which place well above historic levels

  • 2017/18 is the first year of the survey where overall pupil numbers have fallen.

In the 2017/18 academic year, the average group lesson fee, amongst those local authorities who charged, was £212.19. Changes provided by councils for the most recent academic year, 2018/19, indicate that this average has now increased to £234.76. This is an increase of £22.57, or 10.6%. Of the historic years surveyed, this is the largest increase in the average tuition fees seen since 2016/17 when the average group tuition fee increased by £19.26 (10.5%).

In total, there were 60,326 pupils who received instrumental music lessons from their local authority service at some point in 2017/18. This figure equates to 8.9% of all Scottish school pupils. Since 2016/17 this is a decrease of 1289 pupils, or 2.1%. In this period, the number of school pupils also increased by 0.3% meaning the overall change in the percentage of pupils taking instrumental music was a drop of 0.16 percentage points from around 9.1%.

Clearly, increasing charges and declining numbers of pupils able to participate in instrumental music lessons are extremely worrying for IM teachers and for all those who wish to see expressive arts at the heart of the curriculum. The many arguments in favour of protecting and expanding IM provision are set out in the EIS Charter, Change the Tune.

The Improvement Service report on IMS provision can be found here: