Scottish Daily Mail

Exam body tells mu­sic pupils to ‘learn a new in­stru­ment’

- By Michael Black­ley Education · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions

PUPILS have been told by Scot­land’s ex­ams body to con­sider learn­ing a new mu­si­cal in­stru­ment if they can­not get enough lessons in their first choice.

The Scot­tish Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Au­thor­ity (SQA) has sparked a fu­ri­ous re­sponse from teach­ers af­ter sug­gest­ing pupils – who may have been learn­ing for years – could eas­ily switch to an al­ter­na­tive.

The coro­n­avirus pandemic has meant pupils learn­ing brass or wood­wind in­stru­ments, or those tak­ing singing lessons, have had se­verely re­stricted time with tu­tors.

Changes pro­posed by the SQA state: ‘Can­di­dates, who are un­able to be sup­ported by face to face learn­ing and teach­ing lead­ing up to their assess­ment, might wish to con­sider the op­tion of learn­ing a dif­fer­ent in­stru­ment.’

But the pro­pos­als led to an angry back­lash from teach­ers. Alastair Orr, a brass in­stru­men­tal teacher in Stir­ling, said the sug­ges­tion demon­strates a ‘shock­ing level of ig­no­rance at the SQA’.

He said: ‘The so­lu­tion isn’t sug­gest­ing to pupils ca­su­ally that they switch in­stru­ments and po­ten­tially achieve the same level of suc­cess that they would have achieved with an in­stru­ment that they have been learn­ing for per­haps years.’

Ross Greer, ed­u­ca­tion spokesman for the Scot­tish Greens, said: ‘To sug­gest that a young per­son who has spent up to nine years learn­ing and hon­ing their skill should start again with an­other to­tally un­re­lated in­stru­ment a few months be­fore their exam is both ridicu­lous and in­sult­ing.

‘The SQA has proven yet again that it is un­fit for the role they hold in sup­port­ing and cer­ti­fy­ing young peo­ple’s learn­ing.’

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