LEA Awards 2006 title

(Supported by the Department for Education and Skills, in association with
the Music Education Council, the PRS Foundation and Jazz Services)



Blackpool When this unitary LEA came into existence in 2002, one per cent of the school population was receiving regular music tuition; in 2006 it was 12.3 per cent, ie well above the national average. And a similar proportion of singers received regular rehearsal and performance opportunities. Indeed, such was the popularity of public performances by both school and Authority-wide ensembles that finding sufficiently big and affordable venues was a frequent problem.

There was a very real commitment to WCVIT programmes. The music service was very supportive of curriculum delivery in both primary and high schools: indeed the relationship became particularly close in those primary schools that were employing subject specialists to deliver all music lessons and to monitor and assess instrumental teaching provision. Those of us with a soft spot for wind bands had to applaud the fact that 20 schools had at least one each! The arrangements made for the involvement of pupils with special educational needs were outstanding as were some of the achievements. Steps had also been taken to ensure that the Music Manifesto’s call for a renewed emphasis on singing was responded to with enthusiasm in Blackpool. World and popular musics were strongly featured; and there were collaborations with five other Lancashire music services.

Blackpool’s commitment to creative music was strong and is commended by the PRS Foundation. There was a very good genre spread represented in their work with projects ranging from several composition competitions, a film project involving creative work and further development of their project around Robin Grant’s work The Tuba has Landed.

Edinburgh had a holistic approach to music education, which, while administratively complicated, seemed to draw in substantial funding which in turn gave rise to exemplary policies, such as no charges for instrumental tuition or participation in any orchestra, band or ensemble! Among the other consequences were

  • 11.25 per cent of the pupil population received instrumental tuition, ie well above the national average;
  • support of a wide range and large number of Authority-wide orchestras, bands and ensembles meeting weekly;
  • commissioning of a number of high quality  music theatre works involving relatively large numbers of pupils;
  • the instigation of considerable cross-arts activity;
  • the creation of at least two new senior and important posts and the maintenance of generous staffing levels;
  • provision of comprehensive and imaginative INSET and CPD opportunities, though details of take-up were not supplied.

The PRS Foundation were particularly impressed by the partnership with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Rory Boyle in the Composer Laureate Programme, which was very intensive and high quality with commissioning activity, composition by pupils and provision of resources sufficient to ensure the project had a legacy.

North Lanarkshire’s submission was one of those which one can open at any page and find something to applaud. For example:

  • a traditional music centre was created, straightaway involving 96 young people, together with  North Lanarkshire Piping Society with which three adult bands have also registered. Thus a secure lifelong learning pathway was established;
  • with Youth Music Initiative (YMI) moneys a major string programme was initiated in primary schools by means of an investment which would eventually enable the Authority to fill the one gap in their ensemble menu, ie to build a fully-fledged symphony orchestra – already in being was a staggeringly large of concert bands, wind bands, jazz groups and orchestras, rock groups, traditional music groups and choirs;
  • excellent and well-attended INSET opportunities were provided;
  • free instrumental tuition for the first year and longer in respect of larger, more expensive instruments; and free transport to and from all music centre activities was provided.

The staffing budget, provision of instruments, transport, special needs and traditional music provision was covered by an Education Authority spend of £1.3m on top of which the YMI grant allocation of £440,000 guaranteed a veritable Rolls Royce service.

Northamptonshire made an interesting comparison between pre-LMS provision, prior to the enactment of the 1988 Education Reform Act in the early 90s, and 2005/06 with 2,600 hours of teaching in schools and a 1000 plus hours out-of-school. In short, over double the quantity. It would have been difficult then to predict that by 2006 turnover would exceed £4m only 25 per cent of which came directly from Government and LEA sources. As with all high quality submissions it is difficult to do justice in a summary note to this record of the year’s achievements. Outstanding features included statistics relating to the “productivity” of the 15 Saturday morning music centres which supported 30 ensembles. Together  with the county-wide aggregations  they provided of the order of 400 events in the year. And those and no doubt other young people profited from the free loan of over 9,000 instruments and the ministrations of over 400 instrumental/vocal teachers, all of whom enjoyed teachers’ pay and conditions.

After a slow start, the WCVIT programme was planned to increase incrementally at key stage 2. All primary schools already had an allocation of free instrumental teaching time each week. Unfortunately, the introduction of charging after KS 2 often deterred pupils from continuing. Provision for adults was excellent as was that for INSET.

Southwark Much of last year’s glowing citation still applied. Thus behind a long list of new initiatives we noted that the building blocks of effective provision continued to be covered. Good progress was made in the development of music technology, collaborative working with neighbouring and other LEAs was maintained and INSET policy and practice continued to improve. 50 per cent of schools were involved in WCVIT provision, which represented a dramatic increase, the principal aims of which were to teach pupils to play recorders, percussion and/or sing, to do those activities together by sharing, turn taking and developing listening skills and, sometimes, dancing.

Links were made with the Music Manifesto singing working party. We were charmed by music’s contribution to the Authority’s early years and numeracy teams. Thus music and numeracy days came together in schools’ mathematics’ lessons one of the highlights of which was singing multiplication tables to different blues, marches and jazz rhythms and tunes. We were given evidence of a continued commitment to creative music-making and a successful jazz education project in six primary schools. And a final development occasioning celebration was the return of the education service to the Authority; we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the quality of music education had something to do with that!


PRS Foundation: Diplomas


Cornwall once again show that creative music making forms a vibrant part of their activities. The success of the Audioworks composition project led to its continuation in 2005/6. Once again it offered intensive opportunities for over 120 young people to write for professional musicians in a variety of genres and to have this work performed in public. The inclusion of partners from Youth Music to the National Trust further strengthens the project and the production of resources to be used by teachers should ensure a lasting legacy.

Although the Audioworks project is worthy of particular mention there was also plenty of other activity that shows Cornwall’s commitment to new music extends well beyond this project. There is an obvious willingness to engage with high quality and high profile professionals, from the Schubert Ensemble to the Michael Garrick Jazz Trio, in delivering this work. Opportunities and projects cover a wide range of genres with activity both in and out of school time for a spread of age groups. Most worthy of commendation however, is the sense that creative music making is a truly integrated activity for the Authority and this is an attitude that the PRS Foundation is keen to champion.

The focus of last year’s submission for the Diploma for Creative Music Making from Caerphilly was their project around Mervyn Burtch’s The First Dragon. This good work has continued with the project reaching more schools, arts centres and over 2000 young people. New this year was a project focusing on another of Burtch’s works, On Christmas Eve. Involving the Caerphilly Kids Opera Group, the work gave school children the opportunity to perform a new work alongside adults and professionals. More importantly, a creative element to the project resulted in seven new works from school children performed professionally as a prelude to the opera.

However, as with Cornwall, it is not one particular project which has earned Caerphilly a Diploma, but the breadth and scope of all their work involving creative music making. Whilst a wider genre spread would have been welcomed, there are a substantial number of projects and opportunities which show that creative music making is an important and key activity for the authority.

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