Ms McAlpine hit out after Dumfries and Galloway Council slapped £200 charges on children wishing to learn a musical instrument and said some teachers may not be replaced.
The South of Scotland MSP pointed out that the Labour convener of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Education Committee Jeff Leaver had previously taken credit for the success of instrumental tuition in the region. The comments have since been deleted from the council website.
She pointed to a quote by Mr Leaver in March last year when he said “Research shows that music education helps close the attainment gap between poor and affluent pupils through cognitive development and motivation, while increasing confidence, health and wellbeing. Studies show that children’s IQ levels improve if they play music.”
He was responding to a Scottish Government report from the Instrumental Music Implementation Group which praised Dumfries and Galloway Council for providing tuition opportunities for local children.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“Jeff Leaver of all people should know the damage caused to children by charging for music tuition. It won’t just affect their music education. It will damage their learning overall – as he said himself just last year.
“I have been approached by many constituents fearful that this will have a knock-on effect on town bands, and all the galas and community events in which they entertain.
“Dumfries and Galloway Labour Council should pay heed to parents, pupils and teachers who have petitioned them to reverse their decision. And if he’s not willing to listen to others, Mr Leaver should perhaps reflect on his own comments about the benefits of learning a musical instrument in school.”
Ms McAlpine said that the council had abandoned the principles of the nationwide vision for music education outlined in 2013/14 after a previous campaign against fees.
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