LEA Awards 2003 title

(Supported by the Department for Education and Skills)



The submission from Birmingham is a fully-fledged LEA submission in the sense that it comprises contributions from the Music Service, the Advisory Support Service and Arts Education. Over the years the submissions from Birmingham have been characterised by a thoroughly sound approach to the basic needs of an effective music education provision, ie a comprehensive yet sensitive INSET programme, accommodation of a broad range of genres, ample performance opportunities, recognition of the need to serve the talented without compromising egalitarian first principles; yet always a preparedness to acknowledge shortcomings that need attention.
In this submission, we noted positive examples of:

  • the LEA piloting potentially important QCA materials;
  • support for Muslim voluntary-aided schools in developing a music curriculum;
  • high profile ‘Gifted & Talented’ showcases for over 1,000 young people, offering opportunities to them to display their performance and compositional skills across a remarkably diverse number of genres;
  • a collaboration between the Music Service and Sound it Out (a community music organisation) designed to equip community musicians with the skills needed to work successfully in educational settings (indeed the LEA’s policy is to draw upon the full range of musical traditions the City can offer and to facilitate contact between working musicians and the full range of young people from nursery to sixth form); and
  • a real understanding of the value of the Music Service’s contribution to the Youth Service, further exemplified by successful co-operation with detached youth workers in a particularly disadvantaged area.

Caerphilly are an excellent example of how, despite being a small LEA serving disadvantaged areas, given a genuine commitment on the part of members and officers, music education of a high standard can be achieved and sustained over long periods. And that can give rise to some spectacular outcomes. For example, the Authority provided over 1,300 instruments on free loan to pupils and free access to all music ensembles. As a consequence 35 per cent of the total school population were engaged in music activities outside the curriculum – 3,000 pupils playing instruments and 7,300 singing. Indeed, in addition to regular singing projects, a series of live music projects for pupils in primary schools was particularly imaginative and included:

  • a multi-media project covering improvisation, score reading, sound poems, conducting and song-writing delivered by a range of arts specialists; the project also involved INSET for 23 teachers;
  • performances by the Schools Opera Group of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama;
  • orchestral concerts by the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera;
  • the promotion of traditional Welsh folk songs in which 21 schools participated; and
  • visits to schools for workshops and concerts by a South American Group, an early music ensemble from Germany, a Scottish folk singer, an African a cappella song and dance group and an Indian/Celtic music workshop.

The Hampshire Music Service (HMS) appointed 18 new instrumental and vocal teachers and four advanced skills teachers during the year. The Service enabled unqualified teachers to undertake a year employed full-time by a school followed by an initial induction year to achieve qualified teacher status (QTS). This graduate teacher programme run jointly with Portsmouth University means HMS lose their services for a year, but such investments cannot but lift the quality of the Service.

The HMS made a substantial financial contribution to the building of a new concert hall, added to the stock of ICT/music technology equipment available for use by staff – there are now 1,500 such pieces; introduced several major new initiatives including recorder jamborees, vocal festivals and 168 half-day workshops by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra players, to provide Wider Opportunities in music for primary school pupils. Curriculum delivery was supported by an extensive range of activities in every school, including support and development opportunities, which were accessed by all primary schools, and continuing professional development benefiting over 900 primary school teachers. HMS-led focus groups enabled the sharing of good practice with local pyramids of primary schools: such provision for primary schools was matched by an equally diverse range of programmes for secondary teachers.

Provision for the extended curriculum was generous with a spread of activities that was always planned to link with another part of the curriculum team’s provision, including teacher development. Indeed professional development was taken seriously by the HMS; each HMS teacher benefited from at least 5 days’ CPD and part-time teachers were offered additional remuneration to attend such courses. And HMS maintained its exemplary commitment to meeting the music needs of pupils with special education needs.

It is a little while since we heard from the Hertfordshire Music Service. Yet the essential message has not changed, which is to say, this was a submission suffused with news of joyful music-making, and caring – free instrumental tuition is now being provided for Looked-After children. 514 primary pupils were involved in a Wider Opportunities string initiative. All Year 3 pupils in the pilot schools were taught violin, cello and mini-bass, complementing their class music lessons; training and monitoring was provided by the Music Service, external evaluation by OfSTED and QCA involvement in devising a scheme of work cross referenced to the National Curriculum. The Primary Music Consultancy and Music Therapy Teams have both been expanded. A diverse range of taster sessions of live music was provided throughout the year. 71% of Music Service teachers attended CPD opportunities, together with a sound INSET programme for specialist and generalist teachers.

A new emphasis on collaboration with other music and arts organisations was notably successful. We were very taken by the Wooden One Octave Organ for Young Technologists project, in which primary school pupils construct a mechanical organ and play it corporately (we are not sure how this is done!) as part of a day’s workshop. This is one pilot we would like to hear more about once it has been fully evaluated. It is good to see a Music Service working with that very special institution called the Grand Union Orchestra, the sort of connection that leads to 4,600 pupils regularly performing, out-of-school hours, in music centres throughout the County.

Kingston upon Hull Music Service, serving one of the most disadvantaged areas of Britain, is recognised for the progress made since its last submission in 2001. From a zero base, the Service has made a substantial commitment to delivering world musics. Equal regard has been given to traditional high quality music-making in the form of continued support for the City of Hull Youth Orchestra (the Orchestra toured Prague) and for 17 other ensembles, which rehearse weekly. Local musicians are employed to work in secondary schools after school hours to produce pop concerts in each school. In recognition of the fact that many Hull primary school children rarely, if ever, visit the City centre, singing days involving 45 schools brought them into the centre and included picnics in Queen’s Gardens and organised walks. Most of the music was specially written by Laurence Rugg, the Music Curriculum Co-ordinator, and based on poems by the Yorkshire poet, Ian McMillan drawing on his father’s reminiscences of life as a merchant seaman. Thus connections were made with family histories of many of the children.

480 teacher days of INSET were delivered. All music service staff are on teachers’ pay and conditions. Whilst subject to rigorous systems of performance management, staff professional development needs were also met by a comprehensive menu of courses and other training opportunities.

The Norfolk Music Education Service is part of the LEA’s Advisory Service and, on the evidence of this submission, has benefited from the re-structuring of 2001 and the appointment of a music education specialist to lead the Service. This Service too has introduced world musics into its instrumental provision. This was combined with a policy decision to explore at three pilot schools the scope for greater inclusion by the provision at key stage 2 of whole class instrumental teaching.

Twelve new training ensembles for beginners have been created. The formation and development of the first County Youth Choir was another feature of the year. The introduction of world musics was reflected in an appropriate emphasis on this multi-faceted genre in both support for curriculum delivery and INSET provision. A bi-weekly composing project with the Britten Sinfonia, based on a cluster of urban schools, made another positive contribution to the inclusion agenda. And the collaboration with and support for the Youth Service, given the very rural nature of Norfolk, was impressive. Sounds Live was a good example. It used music as a vehicle to encourage confidence and self-esteem. The achievement of communication and negotiation skills was part of the process. The project, which is now in its fifth year, offers a live performance once a month, held in the young people’s locality to give their friends and relatives access to the gig. Meetings are held once a month when the organising committee of young people make decisions and plan future events. PA systems and lighting can be borrowed and the Youth Service provide sound engineering courses, DJ courses and specialist music days, which have been funded by any profits made at gigs. The project also developed a peer education group that provided music workshops during the summer for younger musicians who, in turn, then join the project.

We concur in Southampton Music Service’s description of its year as one of sustained improvement and expansion. We noted with interest that the Music Service was keen to identify those areas of the City where there were no opportunities for pre-school children to access music. That was done and the project leader was due to start work with the children, parents/carers and key workers from each of the centres early in the new financial year. The Music Technology Research Centre developed a new CD-Rom for secondary departments, containing materials for use at key stage 3, and began work on a GCSE package and a teacher guide to music technology. Continuing the Service’s drive “to make a difference”, they worked with the heads of the City’s most deprived secondary school and its feeder primaries to devise a music project targeted at pupils in Years 5, 6 and 7. The unusual ingredient here was the decision to refer pupils not because of their musical ability, but because they were identified either as being ‘at risk’ or as likely to benefit from a project designed to improve self-esteem and develop emotional literacy. In other words, the prime object was to improve their attitude and behaviour in school and their ability to relate to others. Participants worked for a lunchtime and after-school session with the ‘music worker’ and came together one evening per week. At the end of each term they put on a presentation of their work.

£100,000 was invested in new instruments, use of which was not charged for. A record number of opportunities to work with professional musicians was logged. And while £370,000 was devolved to schools for music tuition, in the event the schools purchased more than £500,000 of music provision from the Service. All Music Service staff had learning budgets allocated to them for their own training; 85 per cent attended all five INSET days.

We were pleased to note that representatives of other LEAs visited the Music Service to look at their provision for pupils with special needs.

Stirling Council Children’s Service reported a busy year of concerts and festivals involving young people’s music-making, the high spot of which was a large multi-media production of Haydn’s Creation telling the creation story as seen through different cultures. It culminated in successful performances alongside the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and soloists. That Orchestra was also involved with the Authority in a Masterworks project based on Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto no. 1. Staff training programmes also benefited from a connection with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. And working in partnership with the National Youth Choir of Scotland, Stirling have strengthened their own choral tradition with the establishment of training and probationary choirs. Active support is provided for pupils with SEN through an instrumental music scheme and ‘Artlink’ – arts projects, of which music formed a large part, and which included a three-year programme linking specific primary and secondary schools with a special school and extended learning support facilities. There was also extended provision for adults to participate in music education throughout the year. We were impressed by a workshop and performance based residency project being held at the Authority’s premier performing arts centre (The Tolbooth) for adults with learning difficulties and physical disabilities. At the same centre, young offenders and women offenders were learning music and song-writing skills as part of programmes designed to address assertiveness, self-esteem and relationship issues. The Tolbooth also accommodated a range of out-of-school music-making, especially in ensembles.

It is difficult to believe that this musically vibrant Authority has a population of 85,000, which makes it far and away the smallest education authority ever to be awarded a Diploma.

We were impressed last year by West Sussex’s submission. Indeed, we have made several references in the past to the Authority’s participation with other LEAs in the South-East in the successful Rhythmix project. This has been maintained. Yet this year’s submission, while once again demonstrating how much can be achieved in music education through an LEA adult education service and the youth service, also reveals a substantial amount of effective provision for schools. Thus:

  • 98 per cent of schools with pupils at key stage 2 took up the offer of instrumental teaching; and following an audit of all primary schools that identified instrumental teaching and curriculum support as priorities, steps were quickly taken to work on those areas, indeed eleven staff were employed on curriculum development and support. That level of commitment was also reflected in the INSET programme provided by the LEA for teachers and Music Support Service staff, and in the continuing professional development opportunities for instrumental tutors;
  • a continued focus on strategies to do yet more to encourage pupils to learn ‘shortage instruments’ including bassoon, double bass, tuba, French horn and viola;
  • rural schools working with Glyndebourne Touring Opera; networks in place including joint INSET, shared skills and working with cohorts of children across the schools that had the foresight to pool their artistic resources and create their own partnerships; there are four main music centres in the County with four satellite centres offering more local access. Each centre operates a range of orchestras, bands and choirs; and
  • the LEA’s arts in education policy ensures that arts projects in schools, including, of course, music are planned strategically as ongoing and developmental experiences for pupils and teachers, as opposed to ‘one-off’ experiences.

The Music Support Service has again shared its up-dated three-year development plan with us. The evaluations of priorities are constructive and commendably free from complacency!

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