Project Overview

A bright future for SEND music in Greater Essex
Project overview for schools (November 2015)


In 2014 Essex Music Education Hub – in partnership with the Royal Opera House Bridge, MusicNet East, Southend Music Education Hub and Thurrock Music Education Hub- commissioned a report entitled ‘Mapping the musical provision and needs of special schools in Essex, Thurrock & Southend’. Its goal was to establish a clearer picture of music provision throughout special schools in these areas; assess the relationship between these schools and their Music Service/Music Education Hub; and suggest ways in which the Hubs can improve engagement and support.

This was followed by a highly successful SEND Music in Essex conference in July 2014 held at Columbus School & College.

We were eager to build on this momentum and so put in an ambitious bid to Youth Music.
In April we heard that our bid was successful with a total award of £178,968

Project Aim

To develop, evaluate and disseminate excellent practice in SEND music provision in Essex, Southend, Thurrock and beyond leading to the creation of an up-skilled, aspirational workforce who can confidently build a legacy of greater opportunities, achievement and enjoyment for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

Project Outcomes

  1. Increase the number of children and young people with SEND in Essex, Thurrock and Southend who are accessing high quality music-making activity which develops their musical skill, understanding and enjoyment.
  2. Increase the number of children and young people with SEND in Essex, Thurrock and Southend developing their personal and social skills and understanding through inclusive music making activity.
  3. Develop expertise in a range of approaches to leading high quality SEND music making in Essex, Thurrock and Southend.
  4. Develop and sustain networks and partner relationships designed to cascade expertise and resources in SEND music making to non-specialists in Essex, Thurrock and Southend and beyond.
  5. Develop and promote Essex Music Education Hub as a leader in high quality inclusive music-making who will work with national organisations and other Hubs to share best practice.

Project partners

CHARANGA: Charanga develop digital learning resources, working with 80 Music Hubs. Building on extensive consultation with special schools, they will develop an area of the Musical School programme with new SEND-focused digital resources and forums. Special and mainstream schools in the three areas will have free access as part of their current licence which is 100% subsidised by their Hub. They will also be developing an online network for all schools and project partners to share ideas and enhance learning.

ZINC ARTS: A dynamic arts and education charity that believes passionately in arts without exception. They specialise in creative workshops with Children and Young people with SEND. They will deliver in-school and community/residential creative music workshops.

SOUNDABOUT: Soundabout provides CPD for staff working with Children and Young People with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism. They will train staff in:

  • Sounds of Intent assessment framework;
  • Music and Autism
  • ‘25 Musical activities that work’
  • Skoog
  • Inclusive Singing

TRIO VOLANT: This classical trio deliver participatory concerts and workshops in SEND environments.

SOUTHEND MENCAP’S THE MUSIC MAN PROJECT: A music education service for people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, offering daily classes, a weekly music school, a Special Schools Music Hub, free online resources, and training and consultancy. They will contribute CPD & mentoring.

ARTS AWARD: Arts support young people who want to deepen their engagement with the arts and achieve a national qualification. Teachers will be trained as Discover & Explore advisers, enabling them to assess work within their school.

DRAKE MUSIC: Drake Music specialises in the use of assistive music technology to break down barriers to participation. They will contribute a bespoke CPD programme.

MARTIN CASE : A specialist in working with Children and Young People with Behavioural, Social & Emotional Difficulties, Martin will deliver CPD for BESD-focused schools.

Project phases & activity overview


OUTCOMES FOCUS: 3, 4 and 5.
TIMESCALE: 18 months. (July 2015-December 2016)

Planning, promotion & baseline data

  • Appoint Project Manager
  • Communications with all schools confirming project timescale, content and outcomes.
  • Design of questionnaires, forms and other data collection formats.
  • Baseline data collection and surveys with all schools.


  • Southend Mencap’s The Music Man Project: 5 x 1.5 hour cluster twilight sessions spread across the three areas with school staff, music service tutors and community music practitioners.
  • Drake Music: 6 x whole-day cluster CPD sessions for school staff, music service tutors and community music practitioners.
  • Soundabout
    6 x half-day Skoog cluster training sessions.
    4 x Music and Autism cluster training sessions.
    4 x ’25 Musical activities that work’ cluster training sessions.
    the Sound of Intent Assessment Framework; Music & Autism; Skoog; Inclusive Singing and ‘25 Musical Activities’.
    2 x Inclusive singing cluster training sessions.
  • Charanga: 42 days of development with practitioner liaising with school teachers and SEND practitioners . 42 days of software development by Charanga technology team.
  • Arts Award Discover & Explore: 4 ‘in-house’ cluster training sessions with a total of 60 teachers, music service tutors and community musicians covering all 25 schools.
  • BESD Music: 4 x 2-hour twilight CPD sessions at all BESD-focused institutions.


  • Quality and learning outcomes from CPD sessions.
  • Initial evaluation of networking possibilities and developments.
  • Baseline data feeding into planning for Stage 2.
  • Analysis of data from online forums and social media.


OUTCOMES FOCUS: 1,2, 3 and 4.
TIMESCALE: 12 months. (January 2017-January 2018)

  • Zinc Arts: 10 x full-day creative music workshops in schools and an over-night residential creative-music course for 20 pupils at their accessible Arts Centre.
  • Trio Volant: 8 x 2-hour in-school participatory concerts and workshops.
  • Embedded SEND-music specialist: A selected group of SEND-music specialists (community musicians, music service tutors, special school staff) will be resident in all 24 schools one day a week for 10 weeks, working alongside staff to build on the CPD & training accessed in Phase 1. These will focus on areas the schools would like to explore in more detail, e.g. technology; singing; songwriting.
  • Mentor observations: Observation of each SEND-specialist delivering a session with a school teacher, followed up with verbal and written feedback.
  • Charanga: 28 days additional development from the SEND practitioner and technology team.


  • Gathering data from staff and pupils who participated.
  • Analysis of data from online forums and social media.
  • Review of network presence and structure.
  • Initial planning for conference and disseminating initial findings to the national sector.


OUTCOMES FOCUS: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
TIMESCALE: 6 months (January 2018-July 2018)


  • National-level Conference to be held with representatives from all schools and partner organisations.


  • Specialists will lead rehearsals for a performance including all schools.


  • Charanga: 14 days of further resource development from the SEND practitioner and technology team will finalise the new SEND-centre.


  • By the end of the project, all schools will be delivering Arts Award Discover & Explore and will use the Sound of Intent framework to assess individual musical and personal achievements.
  • Careful monitoring of the organisations present at the conference.
  • Monitoring of usage of the new Charanga SEND centre.
  • Summary of all data and findings written alongside developmental recommendations and presented at the conference.

What will it cost schools?

The vast majority of activity is funded by the grant from Youth Music, with additional match-funding (for Essex-based activity) provided by Essex Cultural Development and a large amount of in-kind support from all project partners. Therefore we are not asking schools for any significant cash contribution. However we would ask for the following support:

  • For those training sessions which are not twilights, we would ask schools to cover the cost of supply so that teachers can attend.
  • That schools pay for travel costs for a final performance (estimated as £220 per school in project budget)
  • Schools or parents of the 20 pupils on the Zinc residential course will be asked to contribute £75 per pupil.

What can schools do to support and engage with the first phase of the project?

  • Confirm interest and a desire to take part.
  • Ensure we have contact details for the appropriate person in your school to contact about the project.
  • Give permission to pass these details to project partners.
  • Attend steering group and planning meetings if possible.
  • Disseminate information to staff and gauge interest.
  • Use Charanga online forums and social-media to discuss the project and share ideas with other schools and partner organisations.
  • We will be looking for schools to host cluster training sessions.