Easing the lockdown: Private teaching

The guidance and information we have put together does not amount to a recommendation or instruction by the ISM to resume face-to-face teaching, or to return to teaching in a school. These are matters for members to decide, and there may be many individual factors which need to be considered before a decision is made. We have tried to secure greater clarity from the UK government on issues involved in music teaching, and our guidance is framed by the responses we have received about how to apply government guidance.

You must undertake a risk assessment before you recommence face-to-face private music tuition.
If you are returning to teaching in a school, you should ask the school what steps it has taken to assess the risks and to see its risk assessment.

Many private teacher members have asked us whether they can return to physical face-to-face teaching. Below we have provided guidance on the easing of lockdown restrictions in relation to face-to-face private music teaching in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Page updated: 13 August 2020


Be aware, from 31 July, some of England will have localised restrictions.

On 17 July the government confirmed that in England 'one-to-one instruction, including music, can take place in school and home environments, as long as the relevant guidance is followed.' This follows the announcement that close contact services subject to certain caveats, could recommence on 13 July.

On 5 August the government confirmed via answer to a parliamentary question that ‘The teaching of singing, woodwind instruments, and brass instruments, including one-to-one instruction can take place in school and home environments, as long as the relevant guidance is followed’.

You can therefore resume face-to-face instrumental tuition if you wish to do so, provided that you have undertaken a risk assessment and taken all steps to make your place of work COVID-secure, with all necessary steps to minimise the risk of infection, including those who may be considered clinically extremely vulnerable (please read the government’s guidance of 10 July 2020 which announces changes taking immediate effect and further changes from 1 August).

Please see our health and safety and risk assessment guidance for more information.


We are seeking to clarify what updates to Scotland's lockdown announced on 30 July mean for private teachers wishing to resume face-to-face teaching. In the context of the wider Scottish Government advice, which is to minimise contacts, those who have moved to teaching online should continue to do so for the time being.

Northern Ireland and Wales

We recommend that members in Northern Ireland and Wales who are involved in private teaching and have moved their teaching practice online continue to operate in this way until further notice. We will provide updates when changes are announced.

Individual legal advice

If you are an ISM member, you can seek advice from our legal team on your personal situation by contacting [email protected].


ISM members' Public Liability Insurance (PLI), renewable from 1 August 2020, has no special clauses in relation to COVID-19 and cover will operate normally.

We are advised by our broker that in order to reject a claim for cover from a member, the insurer would have to prove that a member deliberately failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent spread of the disease to other people. The best way to show that you have taken all reasonable steps, in the view of our broker, is to follow the government guidance on safe working, which will include undertaking a thorough risk assessment. Please see our health and safety information for guidance.

Online teaching

We have produced the following guidance on online teaching:


ISM members can use the ISM template contract for private music tuition.

If the pupil is ill, check the terms of the contract around missed lessons. If you are using the ISM contract you are entitled to charge for the lesson if less than 48 hours notice is given to you, but there is provision in the contract for you to exercise discretion in exceptional circumstances. These are not defined, which leaves you open to judge the most appropriate course of action.

The same 48 hours notice (and discretionary option) applies if pupils wish to cancel online lessons for any reason. Teachers using the ISM template contract who wish to cancel lessons will need to offer an alternative date or refund the lesson.

Next steps

We will update members as new information emerges. In the meantime, please see our health and safety and risk assessment guidance.