CONTROVERSIAL instrumental music tuition fees are to be done away with in Wee County schools in the coming academic year.

The move was announced last week by the Scottish Government with councils across the country set to receive more than £7million in funding.

Fees for families were introduced in the Wee County in 2018 when Clackmannanshire Council sought to introduce "full cost recovery" for non-SQA students.

The move was "vehemently" opposed by organisations such as Hillfoots Music for Youth.

In the past academic year, the basic fee for instrumental music tuition in Clacks schools was £524.

A £117.50 per year concessionary fee applied for families in receipt of certain benefits while those on free school meals still received lessons for free.

There will be no fees in the 2021-22 academic year; however, thanks to a deal between the government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

The deal is for the forthcoming school year and education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said she will work with local authorities to "develop a sustainable and funded model for future years".

The agreement also covers the waiving of curriculum charges for items such as materials for home economics or theatre trips associated with drama qualifications with £6m of funding.

MSP Keith Brown welcomed the move and said: "Removing charges for music tuition as well as for some of those other costs that can take hard-pressed parents by surprise throughout the school year were two of the pledges I made during the election campaign and I am delighted to see them being delivered in time for the start of the new school year next month.

"The SNP is firmly committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for all young people attending Scotland's schools and this package of support means the removal of another obstacle to equality of opportunity and the stigma that can come from being left out or left behind."

However, opposition MSP Alexander Stewart called the development a "sticking plaster approach to a problem of the SNP's own doing which is coming back to haunt them".

He said: "There was uproar quite rightly across the Wee County when the fees were originally introduced as a result of crippling budget cuts to Clackmannanshire Council, as well as a dramatic reduction in the uptake of music tuition due to families not being able to afford it.

"That in itself creates a two-tier system.

"The announcement has the air of a government clumsily trying to paper over a problem that only it created by underfunding our councils in the first place; very much a common thread in the way that it seems to operate across the board."

Councillor Graham Lindsay, spokesman for education, added: "Over the last few years, young people in Clackmannanshire have made it clear to us the value they place on music tuition in school and I am delighted the Scottish Government will now be funding instrumental music tuition as part of their manifesto commitments."