Responding to Ofsted: Make Music Gloucestershire, a year on. Guest blog from Peter Holmes, Head of Access for Learning, Gloucestershire County Council

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The recent Ofsted report into hubs caused deep concern amongst all of us who care about music education. Attention-grabbing headlines in national newspapers about hubs’ poor performance were unhelpful and in many cases inaccurate. Yet many of the challenges for hubs that the report highlights have reinforced what we already know and are currently working hard to address in Gloucestershire.

It seems timely then to share what we’re doing to accelerate the process of change in music education in Gloucestershire. As the article below (reproduced from the Hub’s November e-news) outlines, I’m working with Peter Clark of Swindon Music Service and the team at Gloucestershire Music, to reshape the way we work so that we can address many of Ofsted’s concerns. In particular, we are:

investigating options for the structure and governance of the Hub: including a ‘commissioning/delivery’ model, in keeping with the County Council’s operating model. This would provide a clearer demarcation between the work of Gloucestershire Music, and other ‘delivery’ partners, and the more strategic work of the Hub;

talking to school leaders, heads of music, and primary teachers to find out how they can be more actively as equal partners in the strategic, sustainable, development of music education in the county. The Hub has engaged an ex-head and passionate musician, Alan Winwood to help in this;

talking to a range of practitioners and organisations working through music with children and young people to find out how we can best bring together the county’s music education workforce to better understand and respond to the needs of children and young people.

As the article below says, ultimately, it’s up to us as a music education community – school leaders, teachers, music education organisations and practitioners – to decide what’s right for our county, and how the Hub will develop here. And in the words of Lord Kitchener, we need YOU! Yes, it is still early days and Ofsted’s report may have been a little premature. But we want to make sure that we take on board the points it raises so that quality, affordable, and accessible music education reaches all children and young people in Gloucestershire.

If you feel you can help us in this process, or you’re a school leader or teacher and would like to talk to us about how we can help your school, then please contact Peter Clark in the first instance:

Make Music Gloucestershire: your music education hub, a year on.

A fuller version of this article was originally published in Make Music Gloucestershire’s Autumn term e-news. Read the enews, and sign up for future issues.

So, it’s been a year since embarked on the journey to becoming a Hub – finding ways to bring together everyone working in music with children and young people. It seems fitting then to recap on what the Hub is and what it might mean for you in this next year.

Like all music services across the UK, in the last year Gloucestershire Music (GM) has been undergoing a transformation from being a music service, to operating as part of a music education hub. This was the main recommendation of the government’s National Plan for Music Education.

It’s an exciting development. Hubs have been given both an opportunity and a challenge to bring together schools; music leaders, teachers and tutors; music organisations; and others working with children and young people in music, to create joined up opportunities for making and learning music.

But what does a Hub actually do?

The role of the Hub as defined by its main funders, the Department for Education (through Arts Council England) is to deliver four core roles:

3.     PROGRESSION ROUTES which are available and affordable to all young people.
4.     SINGING/VOCAL WORK so every pupil is singing regularly

There are three optional ‘extension’ roles which cover CPD for staff in schools; instrument hire; and access to large scale/high quality music experiences involving professional musicians and venues. Read more about the Hub and the core roles.

The work of our Hub, Make Music Gloucestershire, also includes a parallel and important inclusion strategy – to make sure that children in the most challenging circumstances can access these and similar opportunities.

Ultimately, it’s up to us as a music education community to decide what’s right for our county, and how the Hub will develop here – it’s early days yet, but with a first year under our belt, it’s now that things start to get exciting.

So, how have we been developing these roles?

Make Music Gloucestershire’s whole class instrumental work, delivered by Gloucestershire Music in 138 schools and Groove On in four schools, has been going well and prompting great feedback from teachers. After a period of consultation with primary and secondary schools, carried out by Alan Winwood, ex-head of Chosen Hill, we are now finding ways to develop the offer so that we can reach more schools and pupils.

Gloucestershire Music’s groups and ensembles are continuing to develop young people at all stages of their musical journey. New opportunities include a free complete beginners half-term course and follow-on weekly groups; a County Youth Choir and County String and Brass ensembles. We’re continuing to forge links with other groups in the county, as well as promoting them through our TouchBass search tool. Our next steps will be to map these and other out-of-school – and in school – music-making and learning opportunities, to  identify where the gaps are and how we can support other providers through networking, connections and signposting.

Our singing and vocal work in primaries, overseen and delivered by Gloucestershire Music Makers has been a big hit, and this year we’re working to extend this to secondaries – as singing can have powerful social, educational, psychological, health and of course musical benefits for adolescents, and can support many areas of a school and it’s pupils development.

We’ve been seeing impressive outcomes from our inclusion work with young people in Pupil Referral Units, Hospital Education, and looked-after children, as well as young people in youth justice settings. We know that it’s valuable as well as cost-effective, because commissioners of services for young people are wanting more. You can read some of the case studies and read our latest story about a young man in hospital education.

Where next?

There’s a lot of work to be done: the first year has been a time of change and adaptation. Since April, leadership of the Hub has been split between Peter Holmes, Head of Access, Gloucestershire County Council, and through a partnership agreement with Swindon Borough Council, Peter Clark, Head of Swindon Music Service and Swindon Music Education Hub, now called Make Music Swindon.

We’re now formalising that relationship which means that Peter Clark will be the strategic lead for both hubs. The benefits are that we’ll share strategic thinking, save reinventing wheels, and make better use of time and money.

On the ground and out in the field we’ll be wanting to hear from you: whether you’re a school teacher or head of music wanting the children and young people you work with to benefit more from music; or can provide music making/learning opportunities for schools and young people.

We will be asking you (and then sharing what we find with you):

  • Schools – what’s already happening in your school? What are the gaps? How can music help address some of your wider school priorities?
  • Music education providers – what music making/learning opportunities do you provide for young people or schools? What would help you do it better or to reach more children and young people?

If we’re going to achieve our hopes and dreams for music education in Gloucestershire we need to start by sharing our knowledge of what’s happening and what’s needed.

So we will be in touch very soon and do hope you’ll want to join us in this critical work for children and young people in Gloucestershire.

Sign up to our enews to keep in touch with developments, keep in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter, and add your details to TouchBass, our search tool for music making and learning opportunities.


Posted on November 27, 2013, in Music Education, What's happening and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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