Core Competencies for Inclusive Music Leaders

As we enter the final stages of our partnerships with Think 22 Partner Hubs (Coventry, THAMES, Essex and Newham) , it’s time to start reflecting on what we have learned about developing inclusive, accessible practice across teaching and organisational development in our partner settings.

The aim of the Youth Music funded Think 22 programme has always been to put inclusion at the heart of hub practice from the office to the classroom, to ensure that no Disabled young person is left out of the chance of a high quality music education.

Our approach to this is always underpinned by the Social Model of Disability, and we worked with the hubs to offer training and development in this at various points during our partnership.

Over the past three years of partnership, we have explored different ways of developing practice with music tutors and management teams.

Our aim is always to work with our partners and develop their practice with them, rather than dictate a one size fits all inclusion and access journey.

Finding focus when developing accessible teaching practice

Last year we devised what we called our Core Competencies; a list of competencies that, from our previous work and evaluation, we see can create the essential building-blocks for the development of inclusion in both the tutors and hub staff across an academic year.

They included very specific skills (e.g. can you program a named app to fit the musician you are working with) , to more general areas of practice (e.g. do you know how to book and access the accessible instrument tech available in your setting.)

This gave focus and structure to the development of the tutors we are mentoring. It allowed us to track more specifically what knowledge had been gained and implemented in teaching settings across the year.

Year Four Plans

This academic year we are working with our partners in a slightly different way. Instead of co-delivering sessions, we are providing support to train up members of the hub workforce. They will take on the mentoring and co-delivery responsibilities once our funding comes to an end. This program is called Train the Trainers.

Train the Trainers will work with a cohort of hub tutors (around 5 in each hub ) who we already have worked with and we can see have the potential to be developed in this way. This is our more experienced cohort, which we call Level Two.

They in turn will support a cohort of hub tutor colleagues with whom we have not yet worked closely or even at all; Level One.

Our aim for the year is to support the more experienced Level Two team to provide effective mentoring to their peers. We are looking to develop a system of support within each hub to train the next cohort of inclusive practitioners working with Disabled young people.

Inclusive Workforce Development

There are several workforce development element sessions taking place across the year. The first of these being a session run for both Level Two and Level One practitioners.

To begin with, we will discuss the practice of giving feedback. We will hear from the Level One cohort how this is best directed to them.

This works in line with our aim to work inclusively and to break down the barriers that anyone may have to accessing development and teaching. For example, some people prefer written feedback, while others find that inaccessible and prefer verbal feedback.

In the session we will also work with our Level Two tutors to consider their own experience of working in mainstream and specialist settings within the hub. Together we will co-create a new list of Core Competencies that suit what they feel the learning aims should be for themselves this year and also to support their Level One peers.

At the end of this session we will have a co-authored list of Core Competencies that tie together what we have been working in partnership to achieve across three years of co-delivery and reflection.

This will combine Drake Music’s core aims of inclusion and using music tech to break down disabling barriers experienced by many young musicians, with the hub-specific aims that have been that have been highlighted in discussion with Level Two tutors.

We can’t wait to share our findings on this journey with the wider Music Ed sector and hope that our blogs across the year will be useful to any other organisations embarking on working in a more inclusive and accessible way.


Keep an eye on the Music Ed Resources section of the website where we will share our complete webinar series from last year and some new resources too, along with more updates and info about the Core Competencies.

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