LEA Awards 2008 title

(In association with the Music Education Council,
the PRS Foundation and Jazz Services)



East Ayrshire A particularly small Authority, which demonstrated strength in depth and breadth. Imagination and creativity were on display throughout and nowhere more so than through a near plethora of partnerships and collaborations which enabled the skills and talents of professional musicians to be drawn upon in abundance. Singing was well established with good opportunities for choral development. Apart from popular music, such as rock, most genres were covered and excitingly so. And amidst all that industry, time and space was found for gifted and talented young composition students with a series of workshops delivered by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, which also performed works by the young composers.

East Ayrshire’s coal mining heritage and the 50th anniversary of a local pit disaster were the subject of a musical project involving 630 pupils in18 primary schools and leading to seven costumed performances.

An even smaller Authority, East Lothian, can boast of an extensive range of provision from pre-school to adult, from school mainstream to prison education, vocal and instrumental, classical, Scottish traditional, some rock and jazz and world musics. Project work offered much in the way of musical development whilst at the same time accommodating feelings and self-esteem. There was good use of digital technology in the secondary sector. We were impressed by an informal music education project offering tuition, rehearsal and public performance opportunities to children and young people aged between 8 and 25. The emphasis on developing young people’s original music has been applauded also by the PRS Foundation for New Music as has the splendid work being undertaken at HM Prison Saughton. One of many new initiatives to catch our eyes was the setting up of a Youth Music Forum to support and develop a network for young people’s music in the area. The aim is to develop a strategic approach to youth music development, including community involvement opportunities, strengthening links and pathways between schools, colleges, community music and the professional music sector, and sharing expertise and resources. To that end, a full mapping exercise is under way. We look forward to further reports.

Hertfordshire are an education authority with a long tradition of high quality provision. Always well resourced and enterprising; all genres treated seriously and imaginatively, which along with the practice of collaborative working with the many local authorities in the County and the Music Service’s commitment to lifelong learning, means that community cohesion is more real than mere rhetoric. There is still a way to go with the reach of Wider Opportunities programmes, but the Music Service’s support for school curriculum delivery generally is outstanding. And one of the main reasons why that is possible is the high quality and breadth of the CPD courses and activities made available. And, as always, with this Authority, the volume and range of regular performance opportunities through ensembles of all sizes and types, in and out of school, could hardly be bettered. And whilst this rich mix doesn’t need icing, there is icing aplenty in the national recognition accorded to the Authority for their major capital investment, as part of Building Schools for the Future, in a new home for the Watford School of Music and the Watford Boys Grammar School Music Department., which comprises a 250 seat concert hall and 24 discrete rehearsal and practice spaces spread across four floors.

Highlights of Oxfordshire’s year included successful pilots for extended schools projects where the Music Service worked in collaboration with museums, libraries, day centres and City Council holiday schemes to provide music opportunities which re-engaged children, young people and adults, enriching learning in formal and informal settings. And while we may have some residual reservations about the specialist schools concept, we welcomed the way in which one such transformation included the establishment of a Saturday morning music school.

The County-wide Music Education Group of over 30 local musicians and organisations only begins to be representative of an enormous number (the list runs to three pages!) of partnerships and collaborations. The Music Service’s strong commitment to integration with the school curriculum is evidenced in several ways as is the commitment to INSET and CPD. And, predictably, we have to say, so far as this education authority are concerned, the range and scope of opportunities provided throughout the year for regular ensemble/workshop and out of school hours playing in all genres are as impressive as ever.

While Redbridge’s year was chock full of new initiatives, it was the activity level in the 39 Wider Opportunities schemes implemented in the year which caught our attention. 90 per cent of primary schools participated and a good range of instruments, including for world musics, was available, and lessons comprised singing, rhythm and general musicianship skills. To reinforce the inclusivity of the programmes, schools were asked to provide detailed information about pupils with special educational needs. The Music Service was up to speed with music technology, and is yet another Service providing a substantial number of examples of how much more can be achieved through effective partnerships. Notwithstanding a well above average-sized school population, the Music Service also provided for adults, both directly and in kind.

Choral work was strong, and the very substantial spread of instruments available facilitated the seemingly innumerable group instrumental performance opportunities. We agree with Jazz Services that by virtue of the work with the Grand Union Youth Orchestra, the jazz know-how of members of staff and the high profile locally of its own student jazz orchestra, the Music Service is well on the way to making a distinctive contribution to jazz education.

It was worth waiting the five years since we last received a submission from Redbridge!

Southwark maintained their heavy emphasis on the development of Wider Opportunities programmes. A much needed extension of the range of available instruments is planned as is the introduction of programmes into more schools. The Wider Opportunities focus, apart from the intrinsic merits of the concept, makes sense and indeed succeeds because all the instrumental tutors are employed directly by the schools. We hope the planned pilot for extension of Wider Opportunities into key stage three, bravely based on Musical Futures, bears fruit. There was also a focus on extending the scope of the two Saturday music centres by providing a wider range of instruments and increasing the capacity for 11-14 year olds. The extent to which the musical needs of the dominant African-Caribbean population are met and the imaginative exploitation of available talents without any direct Borough Council support are remarkable by any standards.

West Lothian Whilst authorities are understandably proud of their youth orchestras’ outstanding performances, it has rarely, if ever, been our practice to highlight the achievements of individual ensembles. There has to be at least one exception and we are delighted to share it with our readers: West Lothian seems to be bursting at the seams with school area ensembles of all types giving public performances at the drop of a hat (apparently to a combined total audience of 3000!). At the top of this musically wondrous heap sits/stands the West Lothian Schools Brass Band who are currently European champions, British champions and, for the third consecutive year, Scottish champions!

The Instrumental Music Service’s early years’ programmes were imaginative, exciting and, we would predict, seed sowing, from the “Wee Music Makers” focusing the majority of the primary schools on rhyme, song and percussion; teacher CPD leading to the production of a teacher pack for future use; “The Undersea World of Bubble McBea”, a magical interactive operatic adventure for 3-6 year-olds told through song, puppetry, dance, film animation and joint working with Scottish Opera; and, finally, “Monster Music”, a concert series for nursery children by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. A partnership with the National Youth Choir of Scotland provided progressive, innovative vocal music education for over 600 pupils and 122 staff. We understand West Lothian is the fastest growing area in Scotland; it must be the music!

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