WORKING class children are being prevented from learning musical instruments in Scotland’s schools, a cross party group of MSPs has claimed.

In a new report, Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee urged ministers and councils to review funding for music tuition.

During their recent inquiry, the committee heard that as soon as a local authority introduced tuition charges, the number of pupils taking lessons could drop by as much as 70% .

Committee convener, Clare Adamson said: “Time and again we have heard this issue discussed in the Scottish Parliament. But whilst we talk, there are young people losing out. Changes must be made. Cosla and the Scottish Government have to do all they can to ensure that tuition is affordable and something that can be accessed by all. Otherwise we are in danger of reaching a tipping point for music tuition in Scotland.”

Only seven of Scotland’s 32 local authorities don’t charge for lesson. The cost varies from council to council, with Inverclyde charging £117 a year, and Clackmannanshire asking for £524.

Education Secretary John Swinney told the committee that he believed some councils did not “recognise the value” of teaching children to play musical instruments, but he said there were no plans for direct funding grants from central government to pay for the service.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said ministers should consider the recommendations carefully: “Music education is of enormous benefit to young people and, as set out in the Programme for Government, we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions to help ensure instrumental music remains accessible to all,” they added.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, Cosla’s children and young people spokesman, said councils were under financial pressure: “No local authority makes the decision to introduce or increase charges for any service lightly. However, the financial situation for local authorities continues to be difficult and as a consequence councils have faced difficult decisions”.