Music Mark Conference 2013



IMG_515610 For SEND – Jonathan Westrup’s presentation at the Music Mark conference 2013

On November 15 and 16th 2013 Music Mark – the new UK Association for Music Education – held its debut conference at Manchester’s cavernous convention complex, Central. Cannily timed to coincide with Music Show UK’s annual instruments and technology exhibition, the conference had a buzzy, dynamic atmosphere and (in sharp contrast to last year’s North West Federation of Music Services conference) featured a heartening array of inclusive music-making presentations delivered by the likes of Adam Ockelford (Sounds of Intent), Andrew Cleaton (Epiphany Music) and David Ashworth (Teaching Music).

Music Mark launched their publication ‘Reaching Out – music education with hard to reach children and young people’ with a panel discussion from contributing authors. Renowned Community Music consultant and ‘Reaching Out’ editor Phil Mullen spoke about the need for Music Education Hubs to devise in-depth inclusion strategies for hard to reach children, which should be written locally and implemented throughout the country.

The publication of Ofsted’s controversial survey Music in Schools: what Hubs must do a day earlier dominated debate in a later panel discussion as Hub leaders, partner organisations and school staff responded to its findings. It was noted that Ofsted failed to visit a single special school whilst compiling the survey.

Jonathan Westrup, Drake Music’s National Lead for Learning and Participation delivered a presentation focusing on 10 benchmarks for effective practice within the SEND setting. An abridged version is reproduced below:

1. Finding time (Music Teacher)

Making music accessible for SEND children takes more time. Schools should allow time for music teachers to plan and prepare, to ensure access, to deliver.

2. Accessibility (Teacher)

When considering the barriers your children face, which ones are musical barriers and which are non-musical barriers?

3. Appropriate instruments/music technology

We need to afford more value to music technology as creative musical instruments – ones which shouldn’t challenge the integrity of grade examinations or accredited courses.

4. One-to-one

We need to invest in individual disabled children to help them achieve their potential.

5. High Expectations

We can work alongside all children to create excellent music. We should have high expectations about what disabled children can achieve whether it’s playing in a band or achieving an accredited outcome in music.

6. Value Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistants are often tasked with delivering music in special schools. Although they may feel they are not musical, they bring a wealth of knowledge about the children and also transferable skills from other curriculum subjects. They are important to the legacy of the work for the core tasks of Music Hubs.

7. Provide training

We need to set up supportive networks between special schools in the same regions and provide training in creative approaches to using assistive music technology in the classroom.

8. Frameworks, Courses and Resources

The musical progress of SEND children should be assessed and accredited.

9. What next?

–    increase the availability and sharing of accessible resources and courses

–    try and ensure that disabled children’s music at KS2 and 3 is prioritised rather than considered an opportunity to do extra Maths and Literacy or physio

–    Music Hubs planning for concerts, projects and opportunities should always try to begin with those children who have least access to them

10. Think strategically for SEND

– is there equipment gathering dust in one school that could be loaned out to another – a library of music technology?

–  can we have ‘super SEND teachers’ who support the learning in other schools?

–  there may only be a few students for whom accreditation is appropriate in any one school. Can we create consortiums of local special schools to run a single music course?

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