LEA Awards 2003 title

(Supported by the Department for Education and Skills)


The Honourable Mentions

Among other things, Aberdeen are deserving of special mention for scoring the highest percentage – 10 per cent – of the pupil population receiving instrumental tuition. This is above the norm for England and Wales, as well as Scotland. The Specialist Music School, which was created as recently as August 2000, represents a model we hope will be replicated by its English counterparts when they are established. With an extensive outreach programme it created a culture of music appreciation from nursery through to secondary schools; and jointly with the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) offered “come and try” days to interested primary school pupils at weekends. The School also offered free tuition to any primary school pupils who showed exceptional promise. We also noted the successful establishment of an adult community-based band in a socially deprived area of the City; originally comprising complete beginners, it now numbers 30 with more on a waiting list. The range and scope of opportunities for group instrumental performance at the City’s music centre are many, and they are fully exploited across a good breadth of genres.

On top of the creation of 6.4 full-time equivalent (fte) new music instructor posts and the permanent Head of Service post, Aberdeenshire drew our attention to far-reaching proposals for the improvement of provision by the Instrumental Music Service. These included the creation of three principal instructor posts, 4.8 fte music service staff and the introduction of a rolling programme of old instrument stock replacement. Given the already high level of group instrumental performance at the three music centres in this very rural Authority, these developments represent encouraging auguries for the future.

Considering that this is the first year for Blackpool’s fully-fledged Music Service, much has been achieved. This short extract from the submission illustrates why we have high hopes of the new LEA: “95 per cent of all primary schools took up the opportunity to develop their existing provision; this resulted in the formation of 20 new choirs and 30 new ensembles. One school now has 70 instrumentalists but had none the previous year – it has also improved the school’s attendance! Another school now promotes a primary school music centre where 240 pupils attend additional music-based activities each week.”

Bolton reported on the:

  • impressive achievements of a teacher appointed to the role of Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) at the beginning of the year;
  • extended world music provision following the appointment of a full-time instructor;
  • increased early years support; and
  • successful year for the Music Centre ensembles.

Bracknell Forest are one of the smallest LEAs of those making submissions this time. Their instrumental service is delivered by Berkshire Young Musicians Trust (BYMT). This was a thoughtful submission that helpfully detailed steps taken to redress declining activity in particular areas. It is interesting that the two major projects in that connection (brass and string playing) both concentrate on whole class teaching. This submission is further distinguished by detailed information about a comprehensive programme of INSET, which runs alongside that provided by the BYMT.

Bury’s Music Service is a private company which in effect is not funded to make out-of-school provision. Despite that frustration, the Service teaches the full range of orchestral and band instruments; and they are on free loan to all pupils. The stock of instruments has also been increased.

Cambridgeshire in the form of the Cambridgeshire Instrumental Music Agency (CIMA) also provide services to the Peterborough LEA. The Agency had a very busy year. As with so many submissions, it is not possible in the space available to do justice to this one. We can only highlight elements that caught our eyes. For example:

  • a Stepping Stones to Music project in which 600 nursery children developed their musical skills through an Indian music experience designed to enhance their Diwali activities. This extended out of school to include younger siblings, pupils and parents;
  • an Ely Cathedral Pageant incorporating music, dance and sculpture, all created by the pupils themselves; and
  • as broad a range of instrumental workshops as we have ever seen.

Coventry embarked on an interesting DfES funded independent/maintained schools partnership project to form a virtual Music School of Excellence, without focusing on gifted and talented pupils. Small clusters of primary and secondary schools were involved. All of the sessions were run before or after school and each school acted as host for at least half a term. Practical help was provided to support pupils starting on less popular instruments. The Performing Arts Service has long-established programmes of events to support curriculum delivery. Most of them are of benefit also to pupils with special needs. We didn’t receive details of numbers of available instruments, but what appeared to be a wide range is provided to schools on free loan. This may be the first submission we have received from Coventry; it is certainly highly promising.

There was also promise in Cumbria’s Learning Support Service Music (LSS Music) submission. Following the successful introduction of an instrumental entitlement scheme for primary schools in 2001, its extension to secondary schools has seen an increase in take-up in this phase of 20 per cent. And provision through the key stage 1 entitlement was also extended to primary schools in imaginative ways. Curriculum delivery was supported in the main through a website ( which provided information about creative and practical ways of encouraging pupils to participate in music-making in and beyond the classroom.

Among other things, Dorset Music Service’s submission exemplifies how much can be achieved by collaboration with other LEAs, in this case Bournemouth and Poole. A good example of this is SoundStorm, a new music development agency within the Music Service charged with addressing issues of inclusion and the promotion of contemporary music projects. In its first year, SoundStorm involved 5000 young people covering a range of music genres including jazz, world music, DJ-ing, rock, pop and new music. This is a fine example of what can be achieved by the inspirational drive of two new music development officers and the active co-operation of first rate Music and Youth Services.

Dudley Performing Arts introduced their own system for assessing progress of pupils across all instruments and abilities. We also noted the appointment of a community musician to work with learners who traditionally do not fit into the “music service” model. While there was no let-up in the range and volume of music initiatives and activities in this vital LEA, we note with regret that they no longer employ a music adviser.

Dundee are unusual in that the Education Department is the music service; and, to their credit, the Authority fund virtually all the mainstream work. An especially exciting 2001 initiative became truly established in 2002/03: the Schools Music Theatre, which is a partnership between the Education Department, other Council departments, Dundee Repertory Theatre and Dundee College. This is so multi-faceted it is difficult to summarise briefly beyond saying it is a progressive skills-based programme of workshops and commissions that results in live performance opportunities for increased numbers of participants and audiences. While the project builds on established enthusiasm for the music theatre form, it challenges traditional approaches and structures and provides participants with the means by which they can articulate their own interpretation of the genre. And, most interestingly in the context of this NMC Awards Scheme, it invites young people to take their interest and/or skills beyond the limits of the target-driven curriculum.

The very small East Ayrshire Education Authority do not charge for instrumental tuition, which may account for the remarkably large number of music activities and initiatives during the year. More detail in some key areas of the form might well have put this submission into the Diploma category.

Enfield Arts Support Service supplied us with an impressively varied calendar of music events. A well established singing project raised these interesting points. First, a greater flexibility of approach in repertoire covered and session content was possible during the year as a consequence of not having to work towards a final collaborative concert (for the very prosaic reason that a suitable venue was not available!). And secondly, formal evaluations revealed that the project:

  • raised self-esteem amongst a difficult year group;
  • significantly uplifted the profile of music among pupils who customarily react negatively to the subject;
  • produced demonstrable enjoyment and excellent concentration during singing and warm-ups; and
  • encouraged contributions to better teamwork.

A rich menu of world music workshops was also on offer throughout the year.

We are pleased to report that the Gateshead Music Service has maintained all those policies and practices that gained it the NMC’s Major Trophy last year. We hope that the dialogue with the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the ambition to work on an education module with a strong emphasis on developing performance and teaching strategies at school level comes to fruition.

Gwynedd and Ynys Mon used imaginative applications of ICT to extend opportunities in music for primary pupils and to support curriculum delivery. There is also an interesting ongoing consideration of whether or not to extend instrumental tuition to key stage 1- only schools. The Authorities’ commendable commitment to the nourishment and development of traditional Welsh music was maintained and, importantly, without detracting from their support for other genres, which always distinguishes submissions from these Authorities.

Halton do not have a music service and were unable to make a complete submission, but we note that a comprehensive and relevant programme of INSET was delivered throughout the year.

From the early years of this Awards Scheme, Harrow have led the way so far as provision of and support for world musics are concerned. This seems to have been maintained, though a lengthy period without a head of service or music adviser, clearly took its toll. For example, there was a very good INSET programme much of which was not taken up by staff. But that critical vacancy has now been filled and the vitality that impressed us so much in the past is happily in evidence again. And the LEA can proudly boast that their Arts for Schools Service teaches the second largest percentage of key stage - 2 pupils in England!

Centre for Young Musicians (CYM) management of the recently established Lambeth Music Service has worked wonders in the barely two years of its existence. We liked in particular the instrumental taster scheme, the growing investment in INSET programmes and the provision made for pupils with special needs.

From a low base the Lancashire Music Service was able to report a steady increase in the number of pupils participating in instrumental and curriculum-based music activity. We were especially impressed by:

  • new work, which has resulted in raised awareness of and enthusiasm for improvisation;
  • steps taken to purchase “endangered species instruments”;
  • continued close collaboration with the Authority’s own Lancashire Sinfonietta;
  • provision made to support curriculum delivery; and
  • the range and quality of available INSET.

Milton Keynes Music Service is responsible for many good things, such as: the employment of Primary School Curriculum consultants who have enabled the Service to make valuable contributions to curriculum delivery; and a very successful “Try before and while you buy” scheme for instrumental purchase. And while there is some way to go yet in provision for world musics, there is evidence throughout the submission of a genuinely inclusive approach to support for all music genres.

Neath/Port Talbot and Swansea are served by the West Glamorgan Music Service. This is a Service that consistently won recognition from the NMC over many years until the West Glamorgan County Council was abolished in the last local government re-organisation. We have paid tribute before to Neath/Port Talbot and Swansea for having the wisdom and vision to ensure that the Music Service survived that re-organisation. All the schools have service level agreements with the Service and many buy additional services. INSET and other services are provided to other Welsh LEAs. During the year, there was a real commitment to pupils with special educational needs and a demonstrably wide range of opportunities for group instrumental performance and out-of-school hours playing. Surprisingly, there was no acknowledgement in the submission of the desirability of introducing pupils to world musics.

It is so encouraging to come across education authorities that resist some of today’s more undesirable trends. Thus North Lanarkshire continue to demonstrate their commitment to raising achievement in music by appointing a specialist music adviser as well as a head of instrumental music service.

North Somerset Music Service initiated instrumental and curriculum development plans, which produced tangible gains in the areas of instrumental tuition and curriculum support, and for the local Centre for Young Musicians. They were also responsible for some effective and sensitive provision to encourage wider opportunities for primary schools.

North Tyneside Music Service, to counter the pressure of minimal staffing, drew upon available professional musicians and established effective collaboration with all eight of its neighbour LEAs. Developing wider opportunities for primary school pupils became the Service’s main target. We would like to think that given appropriate staffing resources it would be possible to celebrate, through music, the rich coastal heritage of the area.

Oxfordshire County Music Service continues to represent a model of good practice in so many important respects, including the maintenance of a singular commitment to life long learning. For example, all adult teaching staff signed-up for accredited training; early music and keyboard workshops formed part of family learning weekends; primary and secondary teachers were paid supply cover to facilitate time-off to draft a lifelong learning entitlement for music; five separate Saturday workshops for recorder, folk, jazz, guitar and woodwind were open to young people and adults; courses for mothers and babies were offered under adult education activities and Music Service staff provided conductors and players for adult groups.

The Redbridge Music Service has cause to be proud of its achievements. Among these we have noted generous curriculum support for schools, and not only primary schools; genuinely practical INSET for non-specialist primary teachers; a substantial spread of instrumental tuition opportunities, including world musics (reflecting the Service’s investment in the genre); and an equally broad range of opportunities for group instrumental performance, a large proportion of which are public.

While there remain significant gaps (which are being addressed), the Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT) Music Service is undergoing a spectacular transformation. This is an area of high social and economic deprivation. There has been a substantial year on year increase in the number of pupils receiving weekly instrumental and vocal lessons; all tuition and loan of instruments is free; a serious decline in recruitment to the local brass bands – an important tradition in this part of Wales – has been arrested; and with the aid of funding from the Welsh Assembly, appropriate provision, in the form of Sonig Youth Music, for young people generally, youth club members and young people at risk is outstandingly good; indeed we have seen nothing to match it.

Solihull Music Service. A large scale cross-arts, but music-led, event arising out of 11/09/01 was imaginatively and movingly pursued in curriculum time. A choral animateur was employed to good effect. The annual rock and pop festival, which was built on monthly rock and pop nights, led to valuable collaborations with Music for Youth, national and local music industries.

Somerset Music Services’ year was dominated by several major initiatives. A series of Music Technology projects succeeded (particularly in special schools) in engaging pupils in all phases of schooling in music- making through technology and DJ-ing. Pupil involvement was as important as traditional instrumental learning. We would welcome sight of an evaluation report of a tuition development initiative to examine the delivery methodologies used by tutors, develop ways to improve them and identify and disseminate best practice. We noted too the introduction of an interesting programme designed to facilitate the identification of musically talented pupils, including those with no orthodox instrumental skills.

We were pleased to learn that South Tyneside appointed a Music Co-ordinator towards the end of the financial year and were committed to a major expansion of their music provision.

While the Tees Valley Music Service are part of Stockton-on-Tees LEA’s Education, Leisure and Cultural Services, they are contracted also to provide music services for Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland LEAs. This is a major undertaking to which the Service is responding by making a substantial investment in continuing professional development programmes that are designed also to support the provision of wider opportunities in music for primary schools.

Surrey County Arts continued to make a major contribution to Rhythmix (a consortium of LEAs targeting young people who are unlikely to respond to traditional approaches to instrumental tuition). They have also facilitated substantial growth in world music activities and embarked upon the development of jazz with more intermediate orchestras to support the highly successful Surrey County Youth Jazz Orchestra. Steps were also taken to remedy the noticeable dearth of brass players. County Arts are now collaborating with the Schools Support Service to support curriculum delivery. They also run 75 music ensembles, covering virtually every genre, each week. Arguably, the main distinguishing characteristic of this Service is the extent to which they are inclusive of all the arts. Thus opportunities are offered in music, drama, dance and the visual arts by the one Service.

Through their Music Service, Thurrock, another very small LEA, placed a welcome emphasis on making music. Starting with taster sessions in schools, running four out-of-school music centres and holiday workshops, employing a large number of music instructors and providing ample, regular playing opportunities across the genres, there is no doubt that “doing music” is a defining characteristic of provision. Having music instructors working alongside primary school teachers in the classroom represents both valuable curriculum support and a further welcome emphasis on performance.

Trafford’s submission, while short on important detail, conveys real promise with news of:

  • the recent appointment of an instrumental project leader focussing on key stage 2 pupils;
  • the establishment of two additional after-school music centres in areas of social need;
  • increases in staffing in the Music Centres; and
  • world music projects focussing on African and Asian musics, which we hope will develop into longer-term programmes.

Wandsworth Music Service also extended its range of instruments available for taster sessions. The year was dominated by high-profile first performances of major new works, which incorporated performance and composition contributions by a substantial number of primary and secondary pupils. The appointment of a choral animateur late in the year was a welcome development as was the employment of a full-time teacher of music technology (at the City Learning Centre), where schools can record their own compositions and performances, and increased staffing of the Music Service.

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