Teaching assistant leading a song in a special school


This film clip is from a Drake Music RAMPitUp! session at Paternoster Community Special School in Cirencester. In the film a teaching assistant acts as conductor for a song about a recent school trip to Forest School, a local outdoors education centre. The students featured have an ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition) and/or learning difficulties.


The students have recorded animal noises using Audacity software and a microphone. They can now trigger their individual sound using a switch (set up using Soundplant39 software). In addition, the class teacher carries a ‘roving microphone’ offered to different children to sing or vocalise at points in the song. The microphone is connected to a small amp and a ‘delay’ pedal which creates the echo effect.

The teaching assistant (seated on left) uses a baton to cue different children to sing or press their switch. She also uses Makaton to communicate the song lyrics and a series of props – pictures, cuddly toys – to act as prompts to individual children. She starts and stops the drum loop using a switch on her left hand side.

Why is this effective practice?

Session led by a non-music specialist; work more likely to continue after project delievery by Drake Music has finished

Use of Makaton to both communicate and perform

Use of accessible, ‘lo-tech’ music technology (freely available to download)

Cross-curricular work i.e. linked to a school trip

Accessible singing e.g. use of microphone + delay effect to encourage singing; student ownership of their own recorded voices

Fun, up-tempo song which has a simple, repeating format

A DM Spotlighting film: DM Education is shining a spotlight on SEN/Disabled music education! Throughout 2013 we’ll be searching the country for inspiring and interesting examples of SEND music teaching that we can shout about and share online. Please share your films and experiences with us!

This DM Education Spotlighting initiative is funded by Youth Music.