Top 10 Needs for Music Hubs & SEN/D Music Provision


Today we are releasing a document sharing the Top 10 needs Drake Music has identified for music hubs and SEN/D provision.

This year we began a new Youth Music funded programme called Think2020, which aims to increase musical opportunities for disabled children and young people through strategic and sustainable partnership work in the music education sector.

Over the past two years we have worked with a representative sample of music hubs and special schools in the South East & East of England to review their work and provide strategic guidance on how to improve SEN/D music services across the board.

We have now drawn upon this work and field research to identify the Top 10 needs for music hubs and the SEN/D music education sector, which we believe provides a roadmap for improvement which could be used across the country.

10 common needs identified in the Breaking the Bubble, Sound Hub Kent and Music Connections East music hub reports (February 2013 – July 2015)

Across the three reports Drake Music engaged with 14 Music Hubs and visited 24 special schools in the South East and East of England regions. Amongst other methods, we received 24 completed online questionnaires and conducted 20+ phone consultations with special schools.

The needs mostly fall into three categories:

  • The effective use of Assistive Music Technology
  • Addressing the skill sets and training needs of people working in SEN/D and music
  • A strategic approach to funding, resources and fundraising

The overarching theme is building the relationship between a Music Hub and its special schools.


  1. Practitioners working in SEN/D and music (or planning to) need to work towards, or maintain, a ‘hybrid’ set of skills in order to best meet the diverse range of musical and access needs. Breaking the Bubble quote: ‘Quality SEN/D music provision requires an extremely flexible, open-minded approach, a commitment to ongoing CPD, and music technology skills that some of the more traditional, conservative, qualified music teachers sometimes lack in certain respects.’
  1. The most common issue that teachers have asked for help with is music technology.
  1. Music Hub activities around learning an instrument – Peripatetic teaching and whole class instrumental sessions – need re-thinking and adapting in order to present an appropriate offer to SEN/ disabled young people. Priorities may well include: flexibility, creativity and performing using appropriate music technology.
  1. Pilot or beacon projects are often the best way to initiate or re-boot the working relationship between Music Hubs and special schools e.g. singing or Sounds of Intent. They can raise aspirations and celebrate achievement.
  1. Communities of Practice/ teacher networks are vital in order to ‘help teachers to help each other’ get better in their practice and to share ideas and resources. Individual teachers could also take up a strategic leadership role for SEN/D and music within the Music Hub.
  1. Focused training events are needed to improve skills in key areas e.g. DET; assessment and accreditation; progression routes.
  1. Hubs can help with funding and fundraising, especially larger strategic bids which can benefit a group of local special schools. Schools can pool resources for joint Arts Award work.
  1. iPads are the most significant new musical instrument for SEN/ disabled music education. Many schools and Music Hubs require training to use them more effectively for music making.
  1. There is a potential role for Music Hubs to play in supporting music teachers who wish to adopt Sounds of Intent including: lobbying for its use alongside/ instead of P Levels; practical support in delivering the framework in school.
  1. It may be necessary for Music Hubs to oil the wheels by, for example, paying supply cover for busy teachers to attend SEN/D working group and community of practice events, and by paying partner organisations to provide relevant music leaders to work in schools in support of teachers.