LEA Awards 2009 title

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


Diplomas of Merit

Blackpool Music Service’s spectacular success with its Wider Opportunities programme continued with 100 per cent of primary schools in at least one initiative. The programme influenced curricular work in schools and affected extra-curricular work to the extent that virtually all primary schools provided weekly choral rehearsals. 50 per cent of pupils chose to continue beyond the initial period. All instrumentalists were offered a new instrument in year seven even if they were to be educated in other areas but chose to stay with Blackpool ensembles. A new data tracking programme helped identify those who wished to continue playing before departing to their high school and provided useful information for their new teachers. Much of the curriculum support had to be focussed on ‘problem’ schools not least to ensure that music survived as a single discipline.

The approach to involvement of parents/carers was exemplary, as was the volume of collaborative working with other music services and music organisations. The inclusivity and extent of provision for pupils and students with SEN and the outcomes of vocal programmes introduced four years ago were outstandingly good.

Bolton For an Authority with a significant South Asian minority population there was surprisingly little evidence beyond an Asian vocal project that provision was influenced accordingly. That aside, there was much to commend. Specialist weekly sessions were delivered in the special schools and outreach provision for SEN pupils in ordinary schools was introduced. Bolton’s magnificent commitment to performance was sustained with the Music Centre running 28 weekly ensembles and ten satellite ensembles notching up over 100 performances in the year. Involvement in Wider Opportunities programmes increased by 12 per cent to 86 per cent of primary schools. Year six to seven transition strategies, incorporating INSET, represented good practice. Music curriculum support was customised for individual schools, with ‘problem’ schools receiving priority support – further evidence, should it be needed, that a genuinely musical school is likely to be a success educationally!  The well-established collaboration with the Halle Orchestra continued to bear much musical fruit as did the previously noted investment in jazz education.

Devon Through an introduction to Cuba and its culture college students and primary pupils were enabled to develop Cuban salsa in dance, percussion and instrumental formats; one of several new initiatives. Yet even more noteworthy was the consolidation and development of a large number of previously successful programmes and initiatives. Over 90 per cent of primary schools partook of one of a variety of available Wider Opportunities’ models. INSET provision was high in volume and relevance terms. Six days of INSET related to curriculum music and two days were designated for Key Stage 3 transition issues. Devon are another Authority which go to considerable lengths to involve and act upon the views of parents and carers; we liked the fact that those who did not engage were consulted and as to why and that all the findings were analysed. Collaboration and partnerships with neighbouring LEAs and the several Devon local authorities and their festivals and arts activities continued to add value to music education generally, as did the close involvement of a number of professional musicians from outside the Music Service. The exceptional commitment to jazz education is referred to elsewhere in this report.   

East Ayrshire’s commitment to traditional Scottish music was undiminished. And the year was further enlivened by a major project involving the Philharmonia Orchestra to excite and inspire 5000 primary school pupils about orchestral music. The Authority funded a CPD element to the project. An equally effective and fun introduction to live music was provided by ABC Creative Music: 15 primary schools heard swing, bluesk and folk jazz performed by six of the UK’s leading jazz musicians wearing colourful costumes and having to cope with periodic invasions by the Kilmarnock Academy Jazz Band. That uproariously successful occasion was supported by preparatory workshops and master classes. Samba workshops delivered by the carnival percussion group, Beats of Brazil, were repeated; and through Scottish Opera Education, workshops, master classes and cross-curricular activities all contributed to discovery of the very special world of opera. By contrast, advanced pupils continued to be engaged by old and challenged by new repertoire by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. As always, there is much to admire and enthuse about in East Ayrshire and no doubt in the near future there will also be evidence of popular music on the menu!   

East Lothian have an Arts Education Forum, chaired by the Director of Education (sic), which has successfully embedded the role of the arts, and raised its prominence within the primary curriculum. Music was seen as having a key role in relation to the Scottish Government’s ‘Curriculum for Excellence’. Indeed, the Authority, while having a rapidly growing population still has a school population of only 13,000. Nevertheless, £302,000 was allocated for the employment of primary music specialists. Several successful primary school initiatives were thus enabled, including, after a successful pilot, a nursery music training project which also provided very welcome resources. Other early years projects served to underline the truism that, certainly for very young people, music is simply fun. This fine submission was notable for some candid appraisals of existing activities. It also demonstrated that the Service was sensitive to the needs of young people. For example, as part of  a strategy drawn up following extensive consultation, a high profile rock programme was implemented, and specific provision was made for those in the 16-25 age range with social and emotional problems (the evaluation of this provision was sufficiently positive to lend hope for the development of a permanent youth music facility at the Tynecastle football ground).

And no charges were made for instrumental or vocal tuition.

Oxfordshire There is at least one thing East Lothian and Oxfordshire have in common; they both have Councils which value music education to the extent that both generously fund it. That was as well for in this year the Oxfordshire Music Service lost its Head of Service after 28 years distinguished service, was “banished” from the education department, and the music adviser, indeed all adviser posts were abolished. Notwithstanding those setbacks, it was excellent service as usual for pupils, students and school staffs. Interaction with school based colleagues was close and supportive and, accordingly, in the many examples of support (including joint INSET provision) for curriculum delivery. A new weekly rock school was set up and, having been awarded funding, steps were taken to generate yet more singing activities. Provision for gifted and talented students across the board was outstanding and was reflected in the high quality of Oxfordshire ensembles and invitations to perform overseas at the ISME conference and European Youth Orchestra Festival. Rewarding engagement with parents and carers and local arts and community organisations was sustained. We were pleased to see that the successful evening adult learning ensembles recruited yet more participants, further exemplifying the Authority’s commitment to lifelong music learning.

Redbridge A panel member summed up this impressive submission with “they haven’t missed anything out”. True indeed and yet time and resources were also found to conduct specialist music tuition at the main music centre for adults with disabilities. In the best musical tradition, entry criteria for the innumerable ensembles were based on standard achieved rather than age. While this submission missed nothing out, the reader will expect to learn something of the highlights: for much of those, the PRSF and Jazz Services sections of this report will provide. Suffice it for us to record that by various means and at various locations provision for pupils and students with SEN was extremely good, and collaboration with the youth service was exemplary. The Wider Opportunities programmes were comparable to the best in the country. And we noted the introduction of weekly brass tuition in all secondary schools (so perhaps one day soon we shall have enough trombonists to go round!) High quality INSET and CPD opportunities born of frequent audits of teachers’ needs enabled the Music Service to provide curriculum support across all key stages. We could go on!

Southwark’s Music Service’s heavy concentration on the development of the Wider Opportunities programme -  introductions, enhanced continuation, widened range of available instruments, developing skills for coping with more difficult instruments and pilots for extension into Key Stage 3 based on Musical Futures – has born fruit. Thus all primary schools and three of the special schools were involved in the programme. A range of new initiatives was introduced in the two music centres, including provision for gifted and talented pupils. We were pleased to learn that the Key Stage 3/4 Musical Futures programme, piloted in four secondary schools had had a highly promising beginning. The Authority’s decision to disband the Arts Team, with whom much of the music service’s support for curriculum delivery was provided, was a setback. That notwithstanding, support was maintained and by the appointment at year end of 0.2 per cent of a music consultant’s time, promised to be enhanced. We received evidence of sympathetic and sensitive advice and support for SEN pupils. In short, we remain in awe of the achievements of a Music Service head quarters comprising 1.6 FTE staff!

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