PUPILS are being starved of music tuition in Scots schools because of coronavirus restrictions, teachers have warned.

A meeting of the instrumental music teachers network of the EIS teachers union highlighted "serious concerns" over the impact of Covid-19 with tutor currently having limited access to schools.

Covid-19 protection measures mean arrangements for the delivery of online provision vary significantly across the country, say EIS.

While Sir Elton John believes that "music has a healing power" and some experts believe it can help in the recovery from Covid, the reductions in music education provision are "causing concern" around young people’s access to instrumental music, and about workload and job security for the teachers, the union said.

It comes as concerns were raised about music tuition cuts in March as local authorities in Scotland revealed their savings plans.

The biggest proposed cut was in Aberdeen City where £733,000 was to be saved by axing instrumental music tuition from city schools. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “It is clear that instrumental music teachers (IMTs) are frustrated by their current lack of access to schools, and the impact on the provision of instrumental music tuition for pupils.

"IMTs are particularly concerned about the impact on young people who are currently studying for Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) music qualifications and who may be receiving no instrumental tuition at all. The picture across the country is extremely mixed.

READ MORE: Thousands back campaign to stop North Lanarkshire music tuition cuts

"In addition to concerns over the educational impact on students, IMTs are concerned over their wellbeing and the need to balance providing the service, and earning an income, while protecting their own – and their students' – health. There is also a legitimate concern that the current crisis could lead to fewer students learning music, with serious implications for the future of the instrumental music service and for IMT jobs.

HeraldScotland: Music tuition

"Clearly, the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff must remain the top priority, and appropriate COVID safety measures require to be put in place. Our IMT members have highlighted concerns over a need for larger and better ventilated rooms for IMT provision, for the safety of pupils and staff. There is also a need for adequate provision for handwashing and physical distancing, and a requirement for risk assessments to take specific account of the requirements of instrumental music provision."

Threats to the survival of a world champion pipe band focused attention on the planned cuts to free music tuition in Scottish schools in March.

By late February, more than 10,000 people had signed a petition demanding North Lanarkshire Council scrap proposals to either make some instrumental teachers redundant and end ensembles by children or to axe the entire in-school music service.

The area’s Novice A Pipe Band had been the holder of Scottish, British, European and world championship titles, and featured at the Tartan Day celebrations in New York last spring, led by Sir Billy Connolly.

Amongst the key issues now highlighted by teachers including one authority where they are only able to teach in one school per day, meaning that pupils are "receiving tuition far less frequently".

Another teacher said: "At present, we are not allowed in schools at all. We may get into high schools next week, on a one school per day basis. Currently all tuition is delivered online, which is far from ideal."

Another said they do not even have permission for online lessons. "We have no idea when we will see our pupils again, or even when we will be able to teach them online," said the teacher. "We have pupils on SQA courses who are scheduled to sit exams next year, and we can’t teach them at the moment."

Another teacher commented: "The current situation is unfair on SQA pupils in schools where there is currently no IMT provision allowed. This is placing these pupils at a significant disadvantage."

A COSLA spokesman said: “Our priority is ensuring that the health and safety of our children and young people is protected. the Scottish Government’s advice is clear that movement of staff between schools by staff should be kept to a minimum, and therefore alternative approaches may have to be deployed in some cases. Councils will continue to provide a safe education for children and young people in line with scientific advice and national guidance.”