Think2020: Assessment, Accreditation and Strategy Day in Liverpool

DM's Education Manager, Jonathan Westrup, with marker pen poised
DM’s Education Manager, Jonathan Westrup, with marker pen poised

On Friday 27th November 2015 Drake Music held a double-header SEN/D music training and strategy day at Liverpool’s Resonate Hub.

The morning session was a free, open-access training session for music co-ordinators, Music Hub staff and freelance music practitioners on Assessment and Accreditation in SEN/D music. Delivered by DM’s Education Manager Jonathan Westrup, the key aims of the sessions were to:

• Provide an overview of the current methods by which disabled young people are currently assessed in formal music education

• Discuss the challenges and joys for musician leaders and teachers using assessment frameworks and music courses in SEN/D settings.

• Explore examples of work from special schools delivering Drake Music’s Introduction to Music course.

• Imagine the kind of future we could achieve including: accessible orchestras; wider use of assistive music technology; a music education sector where inclusion is the norm, not ‘a group we do on Thursday afternoons’

Full house for DM's Assessment & Accreditation Training Day at Resonate Hub
Full house for DM’s Assessment & Accreditation Training Day at Resonate Hub
Group discussion as part of DM's Assessment & Accreditation Training Day
Group discussion at DM’s Assessment & Accreditation Training Day

As part of the session, we had small group discussions to answer the following question: ‘What kinds of barriers exist for accessing accredited courses and assessment?’

The feedback fell into two main areas of concern:

  • Seeking out appropriate models and methods to accredit and assess the musical achievements of SEN/D young people
  • Increased support and training for musicians and teachers working in SEN/D settings
Jonathan demonstrates DM's Introduction to Music course using Clicker 6
Jonathan demonstrates DM’s Introduction to Music course using Clicker 6

Some of the specific issues and comments that came up included:

1. We would welcome ‘tech support’ for music making, in the same way that other practical subjects e.g. Science, CDT often benefit from.

2. It’s often difficult to find a ‘best fit’ model to recognise and credit SEN/D young people’s achievements in music – certain groups can get passed over.

3. What opportunities in music can we realistically signpost SEN/D young people to at Post-18 years? Can participation and progression continue after school?

4. We need to keep promoting the value of music to our colleagues and senior management in our settings.

5. It’s a pressure to balance the delivery aspects and assessment duties involved in accreditation and music.

6. There’s sometimes a danger of ‘assessment burn-out’ – for both teachers and young people!

7. Where can I find age appropriate resources for older SEN/D students studying music?

8. I’ve been allotted an inappropriate space – a boomy hall with plenty of ‘traffic’ passing through – in which to deliver my music sessions. Many of my young people find it hard to concentrate!

9. We need to allot a % of what is spent on new music equipment e.g. iPads, to training for staff to use it confidently.

10. It’s important that we emphasise continuity in the musical activities we create and develop for SEN/D students and seek links between different projects.

Online evaluation questionnaires
Online evaluation questionnaires
DM's CEO Carien Meijer kicks off the strategy event
DM’s CEO Carien Meijer kicks off the strategy event

In the afternoon, Jonathan Westrup led a ‘TeachMeet‘-style event for Music Hubs and other key music organisations across the North West. The goal for this session was to facilitate a dialogue between organisations, exploring ways in which we can move SEN/D music provision forward more collaboratively and strategically as region.

Organisations that took part in this lively and positive conversation included: Resonate Hub, Manchester (MY) Hub, Love Music Trust (Cheshire East), Lancashire Hub, St Helens Hub, Music Unlimited,  More Music, Brighter Sound, Live Music Now, No Label Arts, Music of Life, Envision, Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool Citizens and Con Brio.

Karen Irwin (Live Music Now) & Jonathan Dickson (Resonate Hub)
Karen Irwin (Live Music Now) & Jonathan Dickson (Resonate Hub)

As a point of discussion, Jonathan posed this question:

If you had a magic wand, which one thing would you change/ advance about your current SEN/D offer?

Some of the feedback included:

1. Take home tech – young people with SEN/D should be able to take home assistive music tech (AMT) such as iPads to practice on.

2. New repertoire for AMT.

3. Training parent/carers up on AMT.

4. The need to promote the value of music as a subject in schools.

'Magic Wand' flipchart
‘Magic Wand’ flipchart

Cath Sewell, Regional Manager at Lancashire Hub tweeted about the event:

‘Inspiring afternoon hosted by @Drake_Music – big ideas for a more inclusive musical future…’

You can see a ‘Storify‘ (collection of Tweets) about the event here.

As part of the event, some of the organisations in attendance sent filmed examples of their work.

More Music sent their ‘Gobsmacked’ video:

One Education (Manchester Hub) sent their Steel Pans video:

Resonate Hub, Live Music Now, DaDaFest & Drake Music talked about their joint project Young DaDa Ensemble:

The training and strategy day formed part of Drake Music’s Think2020 initiative, which is all about improving inclusion across the music education sector.

To speak to Drake Music about SEN/D projects in the North West, please contact:

To speak to Drake Music about assessment, accreditation and progression routes in SEN/D music please email:

This work was funded by Youth Music and Austin & Hope Pilkington.

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