Q: When is a framework not a framework? A: When it’s a bridge.
The Youth Music SEN/D Quality Framework is helping special schools and music organisations to talk together and improve music making for disabled children and young people.
As part of our Think2020 programme, Drake Music and Youth Music ran a live webinar event on 27th April looking at how the Youth Music SEN/D Quality Framework is being used by teachers and music leaders.
We compared the experiences of two Drake Music associate musicians currently using the framework in two special schools.
What we found out is very encouraging because it suggests that the framework can be a key focal point for planning, reflection and evaluation (and this is backed up Youth Music’s ongoing research as well)
Moreover, it simply helps to start a conversation. Often, one person may be less experienced than the other in talking about accessible music making and having the framework is a great way of breaking the ice and giving people a way in (e.g. ‘Let’s look at this criteria as that’s an area you have some knowledge of’)
Often, it takes considerable time for a music leader to embed themselves into the culture of the school or setting they are working in.
This is not surprising: schools are complex eco-systems running to their own rhythms and methodologies.
If you only work one day a week it inevitably takes time to establish trust and begin to put across to a colleague how you would like to work together.
Jon Hering, one of the musicians we interviewed for the webinar comments:
‘Having an ‘official’ document, from an external agency, helps the school to recognise the importance of the content’
Having a ‘standard’ can help to frame discussions to move beyond purely personal opinions (‘I think…’, ‘I reckon…’) to something based on impartial, evidence based research (a framework)
Interpret & Modify
The next step is then to interpret and modify the criteria so that it works for the young people in front of you.
So, having a standard for the quality and ethics of what you do is only the starting point, the rest comes down to the creativity and thoughtfulness of the music leader/ teacher.
The framework supports other conversations too: Charles Matthews, our second musician, says the framework is:
‘a key point of reference for reporting back to project managers’
Much is still made of the differences between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ music learning.
Much in common
Charles and Jon both comment that the framework in fact highlights the commonality between many music teachers and music leaders in their approaches.
Jon Hering: ‘The framework is useful for workshop leaders and school staff, as it collates what is – to many – common sense into one place’
Charles Matthews: ‘Most of the ideas are familiar – as one teacher has commented, “it just looks like all the ingredients for a good session plan”’
There’s no reason why the framework couldn’t potentially be of benefit to other discussions too e.g. between special schools, Music Hubs and Arts Council England Relationship Managers.
It doesn’t have to be slavishly followed, just think of it more as an informed place to cast off and start a conversation.