Do music hubs have a strategy for SEND work?


Now, if you are a hub who is currently delivering pitch-perfect strategic thinking and delivery when it comes to music and SEN/Disabled (SEND) students…that’s excellent news and please share the ways in which your programme is effective via Drake Music’s Spotlighting initiative (#dmspot)

For the rest of us mortals…read on

It’s currently difficult to get a picture of how hubs are doing. Mainly this is because ‘stuff’ is simply happening so fast. Hard enough to deliver those ACE quarterly reports, let alone blog about the experiences you are having (hard also, I recently discovered, because Arts Council England currently holds no central contact list for all hubs).

However, we Drake Music’ers get around a bit and I’m picking up that many hubs are still getting to grips with SEND delivery. Typical issues: do we have enough confident, disability aware staff to deliver work? What do the four core areas of work look like in an SEND context (especially if you previously haven’t engaged with Special Schools on WOpps work or SingUp!)?

One answer to all this might be to simply try and do a bit more: more projects here and there to plug existing provision gaps for SEND. A bit of training to give staff more confidence. A bit of money to pay for a meeting or two to talk about all of the above. However, the National Plan calls for something different in terms of how hubs work and that different is Strategy.

Ah yes, strategy. Easy to bandy around, much trickier to deliver. But I am increasingly certain that this is the kingpin of the success or otherwise of hubs and SEND provision in the future. Below are a few questions to help frame what a hub SEND strategy might address:

  • Once SEND students have taken part in ‘First Access’ KS2 music programmes, can they access instrumental groups/ orchestras in their area?
  • Given that there are less Special schools than mainstream ones in each hub, why not create a supportive SEND special school network? Resources could be pooled, equipment shared and teachers identified with particular skills/ specialisms which could benefit other local schools.
  • Could special schools identify students who are interested in accredited music courses/ formal assessment in music and then run a single weekly session(s) in one setting where all students could attend (and network)?
  • What could hubs do to encourage a band culture involving disabled musicians – similar to that which exists in places like Brighton? HINT: it might involve talking to local venues.
  • Do hubs currently have an identified person to spend time developing an SEND strategy?

Given that we’re in it for the long term, we need to ensure that the decisions and plans we make reflect this fact and join up the existing expertise and resources out there. Equally, given the ever diminishing funding landscape, it’s imperative that the resources and skilled people we do have in hubs are directed in the most cost – and musically effective – ways.

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