Uncertainty surrounds the future of music tuition in schools across Argyll and Bute – with warnings that the budget should be slashed by more than 25%.
Instrumental classes in the authority’s schools have become more popular in the last year, with nearly one in seven pupils now receiving tuition.
But a report by Cleland Sneddon – the official behind abortive plans to close 26 primary schools four years ago – warns that cuts of £110,000 which should have been imposed never took place.
He says the current budget of £429,158 – mostly spent on staff’s salaries – is ‘unsustainable’ but concedes: “The instrumental music instruction service is a popular service with pupils and parents.
“Addressing the previously agreed budget decision will be perceived as a detriment to the current levels of service and may be contentious.
“This is not a universal service however and failing to address the budget deficit would have an impact on all pupils in Argyll and Bute.”
Last Thursday’s meeting of the council’s community services committee to include the tuition on the ‘service choices programme’ and Cllr Aileen Morton, policy lead for education and lifelong learning, said more detail about this would be available in the next few weeks.
A council spokesperson added: “Argyll and Bute Council will consider the longer term provision of the instrumental music tuition service along with all other service areas as part of the planning of future council services.
“The council has between £27.5m and £37.5m savings to be made in the five years from 2016/17 and the challenging task of identifying savings and making choices about future service provision is being undertaken with public consultation at key stages.
“The council’s Planning for the Future public consultation ran from January 19 until February 20 and invited people to say why they choose to live and work in Argyll and Bute, which council services are most important in attracting people to the area, and which ones they use the most.
“The information, views and suggestions provided during the consultation will now be considered by the council in planning the future of council services and in backing a prosperous future for Argyll and Bute.”
The online consultation, which can still be viewed here, did not mention music tuition – or the chief executive’s unit.
A total of 1,503 pupils received instrumental music tuition in the council’s school’s last year – compared to 1,122 three years earlier.
The service employs the equivalent of 15.5 full time staff.