Marc Jaffrey tweets: ‘It’s possible 50% of children with SEN don’t get proper music ed’


That may well be an underestimate. SEN covers such a huge spectrum of needs and certain groups within this spectrum, such as those facing physically disabling barriers to music for example, will typically be receiving even less provision relative say, to those with Autism. Equally, in our experience, most examination boards can offer SEN ‘grand totals’ for those taking music courses, but no breakdown of the different disabilities/ barriers faced by the candidates.

Lack of accurate baseline figures generally is an important part of the current problem. The music sector has scant perspective on the scale of need and the resources required (much easier to sweep an issue under the proverbial carpet when the picture is vague). It’s not only figures that are patchy; quality of provision suffers from the same challenges for mainstream e.g. short term projects, lack of resources; lack of confident, trained practitioners, limited partnership work amongst music providers. We know there is plenty of excellent work going on out there, but much of it stays put and is not shared widely with professionals feeling isolated.

I don’t want to sound too glum here; indeed, I feel that after six years working for Drake Music, this is the best chance yet to change the way we deliver music provision for disabled/ SEN students. The sector is ‘on board’ but we need strong representation in the NPME – the ‘details of provision’, not the rhetoric.

One interesting development: Ofsted are currently coming to the end of a three-year subject survey programme in music. As part of the survey they have included consideration of participation of different groups in school music. This has included the participation of students with special educational needs, those in receipt of free school meals, looked after children, and boys and girls. Over the next few months, I understand they will be collating and analysing their inspection outcomes from the past three years and drawing conclusions (expected to be published in early 2012).

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