‘Disabling barriers…’ consultation findings published


In Autumn 2011, DM Education carried out a nationwide consultation into disabling barriers to formal music education. The consultation findings are posted here in the ‘Experiences’ section of the DM Education web pages becuase they represent a signficant insight into the experiences of the SEN/Disabled young people / musicians, teachers and music educators who shared their views.

On this page we have published the key findings, the ‘benchmarks’ to improve access that follow from the findings, as well as links between the findings and the National Plan for Music Education, and OFSTED’s Music In Schools report.

Key Findings
SEN/Disabled young people and musicians told us that:

Poor organisation and planning can be as significant a barrier to participating in music as the nature of a person’s disability.

They want music teachers to demonstrate better awareness of the barriers they face in accessing music, and of disability issues in general.

Teachers need an improved range of skills in terms of making music accessible for SEN/Disabled people. It should also be easier to find suitably skilled music teachers.

They find it hard to access not only buildings and musical instruments but also the vital business of joining social networks and feeling part of a wider ‘musical crowd’ that goes to gigs and performs for fun.

Teachers & Music Educators told us that:

A lack of time for planning and delivery is the biggest barrier to quality music provision for SEND pupils & students, and is more significant than needing money for equipment.

Many people in education have low expectations of what SEND pupils & students can achieve in formal music education.

Successful SEND music provision is flexible & allows for personalisation, but many existing pathways to accreditation don’t fit well with this.

Many teachers aren’t confident when it comes to describing and tracking SEND pupils’ and students’ progress in Music.

They need more support in terms of training in general, using equipment in particular, and information on accessible music courses & resources.
Benchmarks to improve access to formal music education
Based on the findings from this consultation and the experiences of DM Education, Drake Music recommends that all institutions providing music education for SEND students (including schools, colleges, universities, Hubs, exam boards and other music/arts orgs) must prioritise and regularly re-assess the following ‘benchmarks’:

Planning to properly accommodate the needs of SEND students, for example:

Timetabling for key music staff ensuring sufficient time to plan sessions & use musical equipment properly
Timetabling for students to enable them to get to sessions, set up, participate meaningfully, pack away and get to their next engagement
Formal musical pathways (including accreditation offered by Exam Boards & services offered by Hubs) that fit with a flexible, personalised approach to quality SEND provision
All spending on musical equipment should include a % of spending on training in how, why, when and with whom to use the equipment
Access for SEND students to:

Dedicated, accessible, permanent spaces for making and learning about music, taking acoustics, lighting & temperature properly into consideration
Accessible musical instruments and technology for making and learning about music, which staff know how to use
Opportunities to experience live music as a performer & audience member, both within institutions and outside in the wider world, in accessible music venues
Training & Continuing Professional Development for Teachers & Music Educators in:

Disability Equality Training (DET)
Approaches to accessible music education
Accessible musical instruments / equipment / technology
Accessible assessment & accreditation opportunities

Relevance to the National Plan & OFSTED’s music report
The consultation findings pre-date but link clearly to the National Plan for Music Education (Nov 2011), and OFSTED’s report Music in schools: wider still, and wider (March 2012). The National Plan aims for ‘equality of opportunity for all pupils’ with clear progression routes a priority, while the OFSTED report challenges ‘inequalities in musical opportunities and participation’. Both identify better planning as key to achieving this. Many other key consultation findings link directly to the National Plan, for example:

Key consultation finding: Some teachers and music educators have low expectations and/ or awareness of what SEND students can achieve in Music. Teachers need an improved range of skills for making music education accessible for all young people.

Solution: This can be addressed through the proposed module that is being developed by the TDA as highlighted in the National Plan for Music Education:

“From summer 2012, the Teaching Agency will develop a teacher training module to boost new teachers’ skills and confidence in teaching music. The Arts Council will facilitate development of a music educator qualification by 2013, ensuring the wider music workforce is more professionalized”

Key consultation finding: Many respondents had not received any recent communication from their local music service and had little confidence in what they could offer them.

Solution: Music Education Hubs will be held accountable for auditing local needs and in collaboration with schools, formulating plans with opportunities that are well-communicated to parents/carers.

Key consultation finding: It should be easier to find skilled SEND music teachers.

Solution: In 2010 the Henley Review (which preceded the National Plan) recommended that:

“All music teachers should be encouraged to register on a national database, which allows them to use a kite mark. This would provide parents with a base-level of quality assurance.”

Drake Music welcomes the recommendation of a national database which would aid parents and schools to identify those teachers with very specific expertise and qualifications to teach music to SEND pupils and students.