MORE than 100,000 pupils are missing out on music tuition across Scotland as a result of charges or shortages of tutors.

A new report highlights the figure as part of the postcode lottery in provision between different council areas.

Commissioned by the Music Education Partnership Group and Creative Scotland, the report comes after a major campaign to oppose spiralling fees for instrumental music tuition involving leading musicians, composers and educators.

Just last month the Scottish Parliament’s education committee recommended music tuition should be free to all after an inquiry into the issue.

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The report, which is also backed by the Heads of Instrumental Teaching Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said the number of councils charging for instrumental music had risen from 15 to 25 since 2003/04.

Over the same period the average fee has risen from £102 to £220, with the maximum charged increasing from £308 to £524. Around 19,000 pupils pay nothing.

The report said the difference in take-up between different councils ranged from an average of eight per cent to around one quarter in the best-performing local authorities.

It stated: “There is no evidence pupils in some local authority areas are more likely to want music tuition than pupils in other areas.

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“Therefore, our best estimate of potential demand is the proportion of pupils accessing instrumental music tuition in the area with the highest proportion of uptake, currently around 25 per cent. This suggests that ... the unmet demand continues to exceed 100,000 young people.”

John Wallace, chair of the Music Education Partnership Group, said Scotland was “incredibly rich” in musical culture, but needed future backing to protect it.

He said: “It gives Scottish identity its focus, has a beneficial effect on everything it touches and affords us a distinctive voice internationally.

“The music industry is a burgeoning sector full of opportunity. As an effective investment in the future of our young people, Scotland needs to maintain, sustain and develop its music education.”

Joan Parr, Creative Scotland’s interim director for arts and engagement, said the report highlighted the significant impact music and creativity had on pupils.

He said: “Music enriches the lives of children through developing skills, confidence and wellbeing, as well as providing opportunities for collaborating with others, learning about music and having fun.”

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, also said music education was of enormous benefit to pupils.

“As set out in the programme for government, we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions to help ensure instrumental music remains accessible to all,” he added. “I welcome the research and will give full consideration to its recommendations.”

However, Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, described the scale of the unmet demand as a “stark illustration” of the damaging impact of cuts to instrumental music.

He said: “The report makes some welcome contributions, but it is essential we go much further in protecting and expanding instrumental music.

“As we have seen in recent local authority budget decisions, instrumental music is often one of the first areas targeted when education cutbacks are being considered.

“There is a postcode lottery of provision across the country, with a lack of provision in some parts and excessive fees being introduced in many areas.

“The inevitable result of this is a lack of opportunity for many young people, with those from less affluent backgrounds more likely to miss out on the opportunity to learn music.”

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A spokesman for council umbrella body Cosla said: “No council takes the decision to charge lightly and all councils recognise the contribution instrumental music tuition makes.”

Last week, The Herald revealed new Cosla guidance which backed the right of councils to scrap free school music tuition for pupils.

Cosla had been urged to defend free tuition - or at the very least ensure fee increases were capped to rises in inflation.

However, while the new guidance acknowledges concerns over the impact of charging, it states: “Policies adopted in terms of charging ... is a matter for local elected representatives who have to balance a range of priorities.

“Decisions about charging are a matter for local discretion including the decision to charge, the level of any charge or to apply concessions beyond those outlined in this paper.”

Overall, the report found over 60,000 young people received music tuition in 2017/18 representing an increase of around 10 per cent since 2002/03.

The What’s Going On Now? report concluded that there was inequality in access to musical provision across Scotland and that the “intrinsic value” of music was not understood.

It said the Scottish Government’s Youth Music Initiative ensured more than 200,000 pupils got an experience of music tuition within school every year, but more should be done to build on it.

It added: “There is significant unmet demand for music tuition from pupils.”