CONTROVERSIAL proposals to take school music tuition out of council control have been put on hold.

Last week, Midlothian Council suggested the entire service - including preparation for formal qualifications - should be run by an outside service sparking accusations of 'privatisation'.

However, at a meeting of the full council the plans were put on hold pending a full review of the service.

READ MORE: Anger over Midlothian plan to ‘privatise school music’

Councillors unanimously opted to exempt the plans from the financial strategy in the medium term until the review could take place.

SNP councillor Kelly Parry said it was “great” to see cross-party support for the amendment, but acknowledged “hard work was still to be done”.

The proposal comes just months after the local authority backtracked on previous plans to cuts the service.

Midlothian announced in January that it wanted to axe all music instrumental tuition in its schools apart from pupils studying exams.

But after outrage from pupils, parents and music teachers councillors rejected the proposals at a crucial budget meeting in February.

READ MORE: Sir James MacMillan: Midlothian proposals an ‘absolute disgrace’

Last week, Midlothian published a new plan to create a music collaborative or co-operative to deliver music in schools “that would not be the responsibility of the local authority”.

The proposal document states: “It may be more practical for the music collaborative/co-operative model to deliver all music instruction, including pupils taking SQA music courses.”

The proposals, which would save the council £200,000 a year, provoked an immediate backlash from families and teaching unions.

Parent Jayne Mortimer, whose son plays the cello at Lasswade High School, in Bonnyrigg, said: “It feels like the council is determined to undermine instrumental music teaching in schools."

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union, said it was “disappointing” Midlothian was considering proposals “damaging to the provision of instrumental music”.

However, a Midlothian Council spokesman said the number of pupils taking instrumental music tuition had fallen by 39 per cent this year creating a budget shortfall of £225,000.

READ MORE: 100,000 Scottish pupils missing out on school music

He said: “The current way of delivering this service is not financially viable, especially given the council as a whole is facing a budget shortfall of £4.6m in the next financial year, rising to £18.8m in 2022/23.

“In the interests of the public pound, we are, therefore, looking at offering creative arts in a different way in coming years while addressing this year’s shortfall by reviewing the number of music instructors required in the current financial year.”

The spokesman said the council had suggested a number of money-saving options including the ‘music collaborative’ run outwith the council.

He added: “Recent consultations with local people suggest there would be an appetite for this potential solution.”