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)


The Honourable Mentions

Barnet: This was a well staffed service. Among the consequences of that were

  • high take up of performance opportunities at junior and infant music festivals and frequent and regular out-of-Borough performances by the senior ensembles;
  • the introduction of African music workshops in schools and music centres;
  • a growing proportion of  schools participating in Whole Class Instrumental and Vocal Tuition (WCVIT) projects;
  • generous provision, in terms of numbers and variety, of instruments for pupils to play and receive tuition on.

Also praiseworthy, was a significant financial commitment to minority instrument scholarships.

Bracknell Forest continued to provide a varied and interesting diet for their pupils and students. An Arts Council supported commission involving Ronald Corp and the BBC Singers promises to further stimulate an already strong commitment to singing. Best practice as far as effective youth work is concerned is evidenced by the Youth Service’s success in giving young people responsibility for organising and performing in a range of music activities. A commendable breadth of provision is further enriched by some choice jazz education opportunities. The Authority’s one advisory teacher music and the Music Trust (Berkshire Maestros) are to be congratulated on a year of notable achievement and the high promise of next year!

Caerphilly were the only Welsh LEA to make a submission this year. Standards are invariably very high here. Apart from the outstanding creativity achievements, of which more below, and a year packed with projects and festivals, provision for adults and, through and jointly with, the Youth Service was notably rich. Our only reservations arose from an apparent dearth of world musics and jazz.

Cornwall’s “Professor Mentor Scheme” seemed to have become an established feature of provision. Principals from major national orchestras and folk and jazz equivalents visited the County six times a year to give master classes which were attended by students’ teachers (INSET for them) all of which was recorded on CD Rom for both parties. Otherwise, this Authority’s substantial commitment to music education was maintained; all genres were covered; staffing was at generous levels and a heavy emphasis on performance opportunities demonstrably gave rise to high participation rates. And like the PRS Foundation, we were again impressed by Cornwall’s creative music-making achievements, of which more below.

Devon may be a very large LEA, but they had a very small Music Service. Despite that they were able to record growth in ensemble and music centre activities, INSET and CPD provision; and, building on their work as a Wider Opportunities pilot, the number of schools involved in WCIVT provision tripled over the year. Thus 24 per cent of schools were participating, with yet more joining. Meantime, the Music Service was

  • considering the position of Key Stage 3 students in the context of that growth in WCIVT provision;
  • pursuing an ambitious set of INSET and CPD objectives to develop a high quality music education workforce.

We also noted that effective collaborative working had been established by the LEA with several local authorities in Devon.

Gateshead: Among the delights of a typically full Gateshead year – honouring the Baroque, strengthening international links and a burgeoning commitment to jazz and creative singing – it would have been easy to overlook the value of the Authority’s investment in instruments for which tuition was provided and for which no hire charge was made. And given the priority accorded to INSET and CPD it was not surprising that the quality, volume and diversity of music education continued to be high.

Glasgow: The City Halls’ refurbishment represented an exciting boost to music education in the City. Weekly whole class vocal and percussion lessons were delivered in every primary and special school through the Youth Music Initiative (YMI). This was a generously funded service which, in consequence, was well staffed and able to make instrumental tuition free of charge.

A well staffed Music Service in partnership with Harrow Young Musicians (HYM) were responsible for most of Harrow’s music education provision. An impressively wide range of INSET and CPD opportunities was made available and a good range of regular weekly school ensemble was coached and conducted by Music Service staff, which in turn inspired a remarkably large number of festivals involving a high proportion of schools of all types. On top of all that, the HYM were responsible for over twenty out-of-school ensembles covering most genres. And there was evidence of a heartening growth in jazz education.

Highland Council had a high take-up of INSET opportunities provided for instrumental tutors and classroom teachers, and all 184 primary schools were involved in the Youth Music Initiative (YMI). There appeared to be large scale involvement of professional musicians, though its nature was not revealed to us. 5,500 pupils participated in a traditional music project; and considering the practical problems associated with making provision for an area the size of Wales, the Regional Youth Orchestra, Wind Band, Youth String Orchestra and Youth Big Band activities represented praiseworthy achievements.

Kensington & Chelsea’s music consultant and the Royal College of Music’s outreach officer launched a highly successful collaborative instrumental programme to promote and support secondary schools engagement with music. The initial focus was on cellos; next year it will be on trumpets and trombones. There was an innovative approach to music technology involving pre-production, production and post-production and song writers’ courses. We continued to be impressed by the achievements of two dedicated consultants and to reflect on how much more would be possible with more substantial LEA support.

Lambeth schools’ music festival involved 2,500 pupils and students in workshops, singing festivals and instrumental concerts over two weeks. Special needs’ pupils were able to participate in African drum projects and 20 primary schools had opportunity to learn to play double-reed instruments. We were particularly impressed by a jazz project involving all year seven pupils at a technology school. Improvisation and performance and using music technology were integral parts of the programme, which followed National Curriculum guidelines for the beginning of key stage 3 and was to be extended to 250 year seven pupils in other secondary schools.

Lancashire Music Service while still a ‘business unit’ returned to the education fold with very positive benefits. The level of joint and collaborative working with other music services was as high as we have ever seen. INSET provision for classroom and instrumental staff was impressively broad, while the stock of instruments (over 3,600) on which tuition was provided was commendably high. WCVIT activities and training were given high priority. The Youth Parliament was commissioned to carry out an arts audit of young people’s needs as identified by young people themselves. We would be interested to learn of the outcome.

Northumberland could proudly boast of the involvement of 56 per cent of their 108 schools in WCVIT provision, exemplary joint working on the development of curriculum resources with music services all over England and high attendance levels at a range of INSET programmes. There was generous provision of instruments and evidence of jazz education being taken seriously in both curriculum and performance opportunity terms.

Oxfordshire characterised their year as one of further development and consolidation in a submission which honestly conceded that some activities had suffered by virtue of resource constraints, including otherwise praiseworthy initiatives such as giving all staff, who were already working to teachers’ pay and conditions, PPA time. Yet there was no disguising the substantial commitment to INSET, music technology, instrumental provision (over 4,000 recipients), regular ensemble and other performance opportunities and quite the most impressive set of arrangements for keeping parents/carers informed of and engaged with the tuition process we have ever seen. Jazz Services have also called for an especially honourable mention in respect of jazz education activities.

Stirling which must be one of the smallest education authorities in Britain had a multi-agency approach to provision with a heavy emphasis on work with children. They were now looking to give more young people access to music. Thanks to that multi-agency approach the extent of partnership and collaborative working with music and arts organisations attained a level unsurpassed by any other submission before us. Meantime planning was undertaken for highly promising jazz and traditional music workshops next year for beginners and intermediate/advanced pupils.

Thurrock made a major commitment to WCVIT with nearly all eligible schools participating. On offer were strings, woodwind or world music projects with an even wider choice planned for the current year. The Music Service sought to make good the shortfalls in INSET consequential on schools choosing not to promote it whilst also providing skilled and qualified staff to undertake curriculum delivery. INSET and CPD opportunities generally were provided and benefited from close partnership working with neighbouring LEAs and their music services. The volume and range of instruments and tuition thereon was good as was the incidence of regular ensemble performance opportunities. Jazz Services were also pleased to note the successes of the youth jazz orchestra, which registered a remarkably high public performance profile.

Trafford recorded an improved breadth of music activity throughout the year. While there was an increase in the number of schools entering the WCVIT programmes, numbers of pupils continuing beyond the initial period were limited by a lack of instrumental teachers. That problem was being addressed by the establishment of a new agency for instrumental teachers. Five successful youth orchestras were maintained as were the equally successful two main music centres and four ‘mini’ music centres, which were designed to meet the needs of those areas of the Authority where there was no tradition of cultural or instrumental or vocal work.

Warrington’s year was characterised by their substantial commitment – 42 per cent of primary schools were involved – in the WCVIT programme with the introduction of whole class violin tuition for 218 pupils, brass instruments with 107 pupils and smaller numbers playing woodwinds including bassoon. The fertility of that commitment was effectively demonstrated when all 120 entrants in the ABRSM music medals scheme passed in their various categories. Contingents from the BBC and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras and the Hallé and other professional musicians supported a range of workshops. And while the music service was very small, it was responsible for a well-attended range of music curriculum training events for primary and secondary teachers.

It was heartening to note that West Sussex established the equivalent of 3.5 new posts in order to provide PPA time, new leaders for vocal and choral music and for additional curriculum support. A collaboration between the Music Service and the University of Chichester lead to the placement of 20 students on a foundation degree course in teaching, ensemble leading and music centre activities. There was a welcome increase in the number of pupils learning “endangered species” instruments, including oboe, bassoon, French horn, viola and double bass. There was continuity of good practice in keeping parents involved in the tuition process with an exemplary end of programme assessment unit confirming completion and celebrating achievement by means of a certificate. While not intended to replace external examinations, that approach was better suited to group teaching and in the early stages preferable to the examination stress that is de-motivating to so many pupils. We were pleased to note that the LEA’s commitment to adult education and music in particular was maintained, as was their generous provision of INSET opportunities. And with a stock of over 7,000 instruments and tutors to match it was hardly surprising to read of  innumerable orchestras, bands and ensembles operating throughout the year!

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