The MSP for Argyll & Bute Michael Russell has asked the Council Administration to cease charging for music tuition in schools during the school day after the Scottish Government confirmed in an answer to a Parliamentary Question that such charging was not permitted.
In a letter to the Lead Councillor for Education, Rory Colville Mr Russell said:
“I am sure the Council has inadvertently crossed the line on this matter but it is clear from this answer by John Swinney that there can be no charging for music tuition during the school day, no matter who is teaching the pupils. Accordingly the Council will, I hope, cease such charging immediately and refund any charges paid by parents or carers which have been requested in such circumstances.
I know that this issue has been of concern to many families and I am sure they will be grateful to John Swinney and to the Council now that it is clear what the situation actually is.”
Commenting on the issue Mr Russell said
“The Council has, I am told by constituents, been charging for music tuition in school during the school day. I thought that this had previously been declared to be contrary to the agreement between the Government and Councils and now that the issue has been clarified by John Swinney I am sure the Council will want to cease the practice immediately. I look forward to hearing from Cllr Colville that such is the case.”
The answer to the Written Question, lodged before Mr Russell re-entered the Scottish Government, is as follows:
6 September 2016
Michael Russell (Argyll and Bute) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Government in what circumstances local authorities are allowed to charge for music tuition held in school during the normal school day as an option on the timetable.
It is the duty of every education authority to provide adequate and efficient provision of school education without payment of fees. An education authority may charge fees for the provision of an extra-curricular activity that it is not legally obliged to provide.
The Scottish Government considers music tuition in schools that takes place during the course of the school day to constitute ‘school education’. Regardless of who is teaching the pupils, such tuition should therefore be provided free of charge.