Access to inclusive music making initiative enables disabled children to participate fully in Whole Class Ensemble Tuition at primary school


The MIA are pleased to bring you the news of this new pilot initiative which allows children with additional needs to participate fully in music making. Our industry charity Music for All was proud to donate instruments to support this excellent programme… 

The pilot initiative launched in May 2019 by the Nottingham Music Hub (NMH) in partnership with Creative United and The OHMI Trust will enable children with additional needs to participate fully in making music through Whole Class Ensemble Tuition at primary school in the current academic year.

The Partnership developed in response to the findings of the Make Some Noise research, launched in November 2018 by the Take it away Consortium. The research identified Whole Class Ensemble Teaching (WCET) as a frequently cited barrier to music making for disabled children who are educated in mainstream schools. Both parents and music educators reported that WCET was often not accessible, and not meeting the needs of many disabled pupils.

Prior to engaging in this pilot programme, NMH received very little or no information in most cases about pupils ahead of commencement of WCET. As such, no preparation could be done by the Hub to address the needs of any individual pupil ahead of going into schools.

They also reported that they had only ever been made aware of a tiny number of students with additional physical needs who would benefit from adapted instruments in the history of their delivery of WCE, yet figures from the Department for Education show that 121 children currently in mainstream primary schools in Nottingham have a physical disability as their primary type of need.

In June 2019, as part of this pilot initiative, an online questionnaire was sent to all 76 Nottingham City Primary Schools. 57 schools (75%) completed the questionnaire, which helped to identify 78 pupils across 25 schools who would benefit from additional support with WCET as they faced significant barriers to instrumental music making.
Thanks to all partners involved, individual plans to enable each child to participate in WCET with parity of access and experience with their peers could be implemented.

The interventions range from producing large print resources and adapting teaching techniques to provision of specialist adapted instruments and carefully selected music technology solutions. These interventions were all made possible thanks to generous donations from Music for All, The OHMI Trust and Clement Pianos, a Nottingham-based retailer that is also a member of the Take it away scheme.

Paul McManus, CEO of Music for All said: “At Music for All, we believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience the wonderful world of making music. We are delighted to have been able to donate some of the instruments and equipment needed by these children so that they can fully participate and enjoy the experience of learning and playing a musical instrument as part of the Whole Class Ensemble Tuition being delivered by the Nottingham Music Hub.”

Ian Burton, Chief Executive of the Nottingham Music Hub, said “Inclusion is one of our core values and we work very hard to ensure that all children in Nottingham City can experience the joys of making music with others.  This initiative helps further our mission and we are so pleased to be working with such fantastic organisations to make music make a difference.”

Crucially, all these interventions and resources were put into place ahead of the start of the academic year in September, meaning children could start their WCET experience on a level playing field.

None of the 78 identified children would have been brought to the attention of the hub prior to the start of term had the pilot not been instigated, and so none of these resources would have been able to be identified or supplied.

Rachel Wolffsohn, General Manager of The OHMI Trust commented “The OHMI Trust is delighted to be working with NMH and Creative United to provide equipment and support that allows students to participate fully in the WCET programme and beyond if they wish.  We hope that this groundbreaking project will lead to similar support for children with additional needs across the country, in line with current government policy”.

Peter Knott, Area Director at Arts Council England, said “At the Arts Council we believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to take part and experience great art and culture.
We’re delighted that Creative United and Nottingham Music Education Hub has joined forces to offer disabled/less able-bodied children the chance to learn to play a musical instrument, alongside their school mates. Opportunities like this may not have been available in the past and I, for one, look forward to seeing and hearing the results.”

The progress of the cohort across the academic year and beyond will now be monitored as part of the initiative and all partners hope to see a proportionate number of the identified children continue with music making beyond first access in comparison with their peers.

This pilot programme has been initiated by Creative United which operates the Take it away scheme, an Arts Council England funded initiative that aims to make the purchase of musical instruments and associated equipment.