Any new Music Education Hub set up under the government’s new National Plan for Music Education must take responsibility and accountability for providing services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – this was one of the major recommendations in a new report by Drake Music.
The report comes after a year’s consultation in 2011 into music education services for SEND children and young people in England, and the barriers that face them.
Alongside raising a number of issues, the report calls for music hubs to be able to provide high-quality services to the 1.7 million children with special needs in England.
Drake Music are an organisation focussed on breaking down the barriers for people with disabilities, or who suffer from conditions, to access music and music making.
The consultation sought the views and experiences of SEND musicians, many of whom told Drake that they had come face-to-face with barriers in participating in music because of poor organisation and planning.
They called for music teachers to show improved awareness of the barriers they face in accessing music as well as wider disability issues. They also suggested that teachers need skills training in how to make music accessible for SEND people.
Even access to buildings and musical instruments were listed as problems for SEND musicians, while they found it difficult to feel part of ‘music crowds’ who go to gigs or perform for fun.
On the flipside, music teachers said they want increased access to information and resourcing on how to support students with certain needs. They cited a lack of time for planning and delivery for SEND students, but also said they were not confident in tracking SEND pupils’ progress in music.
“The findings of this research show a range of issues among which there are some basic measures that can be carried out to immediately reduce these barriers,” Drake Music’s education manager Doug Bott, told Music Education UK.
“These include better timetabling and communication within schools, sharing of information and adequate planning time for teachers.”
Another finding from the consultation showed that many people in the education sector have low expectations of what SEND pupils can achieve in formal music education settings.
By focusing on this issue in Music Education Hubs, SEND students and musicians could find gateways to “local and national networks and sources of expertise”, Mr Bott said.