LEA Awards 2008 title

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


The Honourable Mentions

Barking & Dagenham The Authority’s funding of the Community Music Service (CMS) far exceeded the Standards Fund and this was reflected in all-round good quality provision. 71 per cent of schools received Whole Class Instrumental & Vocal Tuition (which hereinafter we shall refer to by its original title, Wider Opportunities!) and year six to year seven transition arrangements were proving to be effective. CMS support for school curriculum delivery was developing well as was the range and number of group instrumental and vocal performance opportunities. The CMS commissioned performance at Sadler’s Wells involving school choirs, instrumentalists and staff musicians based on a Thomas Tallis psalm setting yet exploring renaissance, reggae, gospel, African township and film music was, understandably, the highlight of the year.

Blackpool Some remarkable statistics featured in this submission, such as 90 per cent of the total school population attending one or more of the 136 music workshops, and 96 per cent of the primary schools either having a band, an orchestra or several pop groups; and most of them performing publicly as well as at school events. 76 per cent of the primary schools were involved in Wider Opportunities and 100 per cent had signed up for September 2008. The Music Service continued its active encouragement and support of music making in the three special schools. One particularly gratifying development was the increase in numbers of SEN staff wanting to develop their musical skills. Community cohesion is alive and well in Blackpool with numerous examples of adults of all ages getting involved in all aspects of music making.

Bolton A substantial increase in the number of Wider Opportunities programmes brought the percentage of schools involved to 63 per cent. Good progress with arrangements for transition from year six to year seven, and the successful Wider Opportunities programmes contributed to the growth in the volume and breadth of the Music Service’s support of the schools’ curriculum. Well established collaborations with the Hallé and other music organisations continued to bear fruit to the extent that Bolton’s outstanding record in the brass band field promises to be matched in other genres. Indeed, the submission before us already revealed an impressively high level of regular ensemble activity, eg rehearsals for 32 weeks of the year for 36 ensembles of most types. We noted too that a genuine investment was being made in the development of good quality jazz education.

Devon The award winning activity of the Authority was maintained in 2007/08 and wanted only for quantifications in the submission before us. The Local Learning Communities concept, born of the needs of a substantial number of small schools in a largely rural county, seems now to be embedded; and we would be interested to learn whether the impending review of the Music Plan includes an evaluation of the concept. That review was prompted by increasing demands on the Music Service, which given the high quality of much of the provision, was not surprising. The continued high level commitment to jazz education is the subject of another section of this report.

Edinburgh It is difficult to imagine another Authority which faced with a departmental budget shortfall of 14m pounds would nonetheless maintain a policy of not charging for instrumental tuition or for participation in City-wide ensembles; and, furthermore, provide a range and volume of INSET and CPD opportunities unmatched by any other submissions. The Authority’s impressive adult education programme represented a telling reminder of the days when most English and Welsh LEAs provided non-vocational adult education as a matter of course. Recognition of an outstanding commitment to jazz education is referred to elsewhere in this report.

Enfield’s Arts Support Service instigated several new initiatives which, certainly so far as expansion of world musics is concerned, should enrich future provision within the Wider Opportunities programmes and support for school curriculum. An impressive 89 per cent of primary and special schools were involved in those programmes. There was a good range of INSET over the year, and free taster lessons lead to an increase in the number of pupils playing less popular instruments.

Glasgow A bountiful crop of new initiatives made this a stand out year for Glasgow. Youth Music Initiatives were delivered almost exclusively through voice and percussion activity, though some pupils had opportunity to learn string and wind instruments. We applaud much of the provision for adults focusing on work with ethnic communities, through world and traditional Scottish music. And we were pleased to learn of a successful jazz summer school, which exploited the scope for co-operation with the Glasgow International Jazz Festival. The Service’s inclusive approach to provision for pupils with disability and special educational needs was mirrored in the education and training support for disabled adults performing in integrated bands.

Knowsley, an Authority with high levels of deprivation and proportionally one of the highest school populations in the country, were providing over 16 per cent of pupils with specialist instrumental and vocal tuition, ie above the national average. 81 per cent of the primary schools were involved in Wider Opportunities programmes. The Music & Performing Arts Service registered outstanding success with those programmes featuring steel pan, flute, clarinet, trombone and keyboard, all available on loan and free of charge. General musicianship and singing were included throughout and were in line with the strategy for transition into year seven. Staff training for the programmes was taken seriously and receiving secondary school teachers were kept fully in the picture. All the indications were that over 50 per cent of pupils involved would like to continue with formal tuition next year.

Lincolnshire It was good to hear from this Authority after a gap of seven years. There was much to commend. A three-year strategic plan, which included a foundation year of world musics should ensure a universal key stage three reach by 2011. Free weekly activities at the eight music centres provided ensemble playing opportunities in symphony orchestras, wind bands, junior and senior choirs, string chamber groups, jazz, rock, fusion and rhythm and blues. Indeed the range and scope of opportunities for regular weekly ensemble/workshop activity was outstanding. The Authority’s very promising start to embedding jazz education in their overall music education provision is referred to elsewhere in this report.

North Lanarkshire’s funding of music education continues to exceed one million pounds per annum, so it was not surprising to find that the many worthwhile activities to which we have regularly drawn attention over the years were not only sustained but in many instances involved greater numbers of pupils and students. We were impressed by the range, scope and take up of the INSET programmes provided for Music Service staff. And we doubt whether any other music service in Britain can match North Lanarkshire for their commitment to rock and pop.

Northamptonshire have a “Rolls Royce” Music & Performing Arts Service. A staff of 521 helped enormously by a substantial stock and full range of instruments for loan, without charge, promoting and supporting a spectacular amount of music performance, mainly in the Western European tradition. We suspect there is more support for those with special educational needs than is evidenced in the submission. But there is growing activity on the Wider Opportunities front, a genuine commitment to CPD (99 per cent take up) and a praiseworthy range of provision for adults.

We can only marvel at the achievements of an education authority as small as Stirling. Yet here is further evidence that with effective partnerships and collaboration a population of only 86,000 doesn’t have to be a handicap. The Authority’s record in that regard was no doubt influential in the decision to locate Sistema Scotland in the area.

Warrington have double the population of Stirling yet the Music Service has to operate on half the budget. A small (only one full time worker) but demonstrably dedicated team of instrumental tutors, the majority of whom have QTS, provide a good all-round service with a spread of genres covered, all underpinned by good quality INSET and CPD, and Wider Opportunities programmes which have provided models for other music services. We were especially taken by a new initiative which took the form of a Family Learning Centre catering for pupils and their parents who wished to perform samba, African drumming and play in string ensembles and, to those ends, received tuition.

The West Sussex submission illustrated just how complicated the management of a large music service has become. The Service is working hard to raise the number of pupils participating in Wider Opportunities programmes, and given the availability of appropriately skilled tutors and a substantial stock of instruments there is every reason to suppose the annual increase will be sustained. Growth in weekly music centre activity (3000 young people perform in instrumental ensembles) and school level ensemble formation augur well for the future. Gifted and talented students were not neglected and we were pleased to learn that the County’s tradition of provision for adults had been maintained.

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