The number of music teachers working in Scottish primary schools has dropped by more than 40% over the last seven years, official figures have revealed.

According to the Scottish Government’s teacher census, the figure has fallen on a yearly basis since 2011, when there were 108 teachers across the country whose main job was to teach music.

Last year, however, the figure had dropped to 62, with 10 local authority areas having no dedicated music teachers in primary schools at all.

The latest figures represent a drop of three music teachers on 2017, when numbers dropped to 65 from 79 the previous year.

Earlier this year, Holyrood’s Education Committee recommended music tuition should be provided free of charge in schools.

In 2018, several councils either introduced or increased fees for instrumental lessons but MSPs have called for changes to funding for tuition.

Edinburgh, Western Isles, Glasgow, and Orkney councils do not charge for lessons.

Dundee and West Dunbartonshire provide free lessons but charge £85 for instrument hire.

Scottish Conservative spokeswoman for children and young people, Alison Harris, said: “This is a thoroughly depressing statistic which highlights the neglect of the SNP government in this area.

“We’re not talking about a statistical blip here – it’s a 42% decrease in the space of seven years.

“That will mean a significantly reduced experience for primary school children all over Scotland.”

She added: “The SNP has been warned for years about how important it is for young children to be given the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.

“Yet it’s allowed teacher numbers in this area to completely collapse.

“If this doesn’t change soon, thousands more youngsters will miss out on opportunities which could shape and influence their entire lives.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Teacher numbers in Scottish schools are at their highest since 2010 but we recognise the teacher recruitment challenges.

“That is why we have increased targets for recruitment into initial teacher education and created new routes to make it more practical and flexible for people to access courses

“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.

“The Scottish Government has continued to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK Government.”