Outsourcing or In-housing: What’s the best solution for instrumental teaching?

When it comes to outsourcing, there are three key issues to take into consideration when designing your provision.

IR35 & Off-payroll working

Most of us have heard of the recent landmark decision to designate Uber drivers as ‘workers’ rather than self-employed, entitling them to holiday pay, pension rights, and other benefits. What is less familiar but more relevant for schools, is the judgement in Scott v Chigwell, where a singing teacher successfully argued that she should be treated as a ‘worker’ by her school rather than self-employed. The relationship was deemed ‘worker’ rather than ‘self-employed’ due to the amount of control the school had over the teacher’s work. It was concluded that the teaching was offered as part of the school’s service to parents, and that the teacher was integrated into the school (for example having access to the site, and being included in the list of teachers), and that she was only allowed to provide a substitute under certain conditions. This may all sound like a very standard set-up for a peripatetic teacher, but it was enough for her to be deemed a ‘worker’ rather than self-employed, and entitled to a worker’s benefits.

When contracting individual teachers directly, the onus is on the school as the ‘end user’ to ensure that the employment status of instrumental teachers is correct. If schools don’t want to give their instrumental teachers full employment status, this is one reason why they might enter into a contract with an instrumental teaching provider like Learning Music. The music teaching service is responsible for ensuring that the teachers are contracted in the correct way, and paid appropriately including any statutory obligations around tax, national insurances, pensions and so forth. In this scenario the school is not responsible for the employment status of the teacher.


Running a bustling music department full of peripatetic teachers and ensembles, on top of your own teaching commitments, is no mean feat! Some Heads of Department appreciate having control over the fine details of the peripatetic timetabling, billing of parents, chasing of reports and exam entries, and all the other administrative tasks that make instrumental lessons run smoothly. Others, however, find those tasks onerous, and will want to streamline them as much as possible, which is where contracting a music teaching service can be really helpful. Depending on the provider they choose, Heads of Department may be able to hand some or all of the administrative tasks off, so that peripatetic teaching just ‘runs itself’ – doesn’t that sound nice!

At Learning Music we have two options for billing and delivery of lessons. We can bill the school, in which case you would retain a greater level of autonomy. Alternatively we can enter into contracts directly with parents and take more of the work off your hands. Read more about our billing and delivery models here.

Quality Assurance

Another big job for schools is quality assuring their teachers. For larger music departments, the Head Teacher and Head of Department may need to find 20 or more slots in their timetables to be able to observe instrumental teaching across the course of a year. While we would always suggest that a school does keep oversight of the quality of any provision, if your teachers are provided by an instrumental teaching service this does take the pressure off. These teachers will be being quality assured and trained by the service regularly, to ensure that they are up to date with important issues such as safeguarding, and that their teaching methods are current and appropriate. This means that schools themselves may then only need to do a learning walk style pop-in now and again to satisfy themselves that everything is as it should be!

When it comes to instrumental provision, it’s important that schools find the right solution for their individual needs. If you think that Learning Music might be the provider for you, click here to book a free consultation.

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