Barriers and Drivers to Inclusion in Music Services ( presentation)

Written by: Michael Davidson

28 October, 2019

Changing Tunes Presentation on Barriers and Drivers to Inclusion in Music Services-

-for AMIE Gathering at MAC Birmingham 25th October 2019

1, Intro

Changing Tunes uses research as a catalyst for strategic development, annually commissioning action-based research projects for music services to share the challenges, enablers and benefits of developing musical inclusion practice.

2, Development Theory

Our approach draws on key elements of development theory.

  1. Development often prioritises innovation over building on existing capacity
  2. Sustainable behaviour change depends on encouraging agency
  3. Ground upwards local research helps here
  4. ‘Listening before telling’ is essential
  5. Peer challenge and reflection at service and tutor level is key

We’ve found these elements are helpful to working alongside music service managers, tutors, and with stakeholders, many of whom can be resistant to advice and guidance!  We began by advocating for specific inclusion models, but found that sharing peer learning about challenges has better helped services ‘own’ their inclusion development, as well as unearthing valuable local existing practice.

3, So, who are we seeking to influence?

Beyond services and national stakeholders, we’re seeking to influence schools and local authority targeted support teams. These value specific outcomes such as resilience for school inclusion, but  often look to sport rather than music for these. We’re also seeking to influence multiple layers of music services, as although inclusion is often understood and valued by service leads and some tutors, we’ve found it sometimes ‘sticks’ between different organisational layers.  Research helps with this, as a focus on learning gets us past ‘victory narratives’ of success that can block development.

4, Know your Music Service!

Music Services are all different. Some have existing traditions of inclusion development, especially when they are aligned with local authorities targeted support teams, which value similar outcomes to Youth Music. Other services are small and lack development capacity, or are primarily interested in narrow ideas of musical quality. For instance, managers with less experience of teaching a wide range of pupils may focus on recruiting conservatoire-style tutors.

One music service we spoke with commented’ We’re a music service, not a social service’, as though it’s possible to teach music effectively and fairly without differentiation.

Offering inclusive teaching models can be helpful here, but can still lead to inclusion being seen as an ‘extra’, commissioned from separate organisations or freelancers, or being silo-ed into specific teams or geographical areas. And all services are balancing inclusion with increased commercial pressures to sustain or expand business. For many, Arts Council and Youth Music funding is a small part of turnover, the majority being parent-funded. In some areas, families with protected characteristics have defined musical inclusion as their children passing grade exams to get into selective schools. Teacher managers will declare ‘inclusion is in everything we do’, but because of tradition  and commercial pressures, inclusion gets defined as increasing numbers in large-scale ensembles, rather than creating more diverse progression routes for diverse learners. To counter this,  we’re working on a resource to help music services respond to Youth Voice.

5, Bringing an Outcomes Approach to existing work

Many services have remission of fees schemes for Free School Meals and CLA pupils, and our hub research partners report increased demand indicates they’re now working with a wider range of pupils. However, there’s also evidence that retention levels are lower, unless the offer matches pupil interest. We’ve learnt many CLA pupils are interested in learning to use music tech to create their own music. Often services  lack capacity to support this, not because tutors can’t cover music tech, but because managers recruited them to do something else, or because there’s no progression route for tech learners. We’re exploring developing an outcomes approach for remission of fees schemes; mapping learner retention against how the offer responds to pupil voice.

6, Building the Business Case for Inclusion

However, we’ve found that schools are really interested in inclusion, so developing capacity can help music services build their wider business case. Local authorities are seeking to prevent school exclusions for financial reasons as well as for social justice. Creative Nurture groups in Stevenage primary schools unlocked considerable match funding from teams working to save the costs of pupil exclusion. Music service managers sometimes view inclusion work as short term, but the Nurture Groups also helped promote First Access to new schools. And sometimes simply talking to LA teams supporting vulnerable pupils can encourage music services to build inclusion capacity within the existing workforce. For instance, during summer 2019, Hertfordshire mainstream instrumental tutors delivered County Lines diversionary work in Youth Clubs, adapting to the new environment and wider range of pupils through dialogue with youth workers. In our earlier partnership work, both Essex and Cambridgeshire developed closer links with schools and local authorities through their inclusion work. To do this, they changed how they recruited and trained tutors.

7, Diversifying Workforce

Changing Tunes aims to build inclusion capacity for instrumental teachers, as part of our preventative inclusion strategy. All of our original partners developed work in PRUS, and through this became interested in how developing instrumental teaching can help prevent exclusion. Music service tutors are in most schools every week, so can bring inclusion into the heart of each.  Personal and social outcomes are underreported for instrumental teaching, but we’ve found are a key value for tutors, as well as for schools. Some tutors already have experience of working in classroom and community settings.  Others need to adapt their practice to engage a wider range of learners. Bringing them together with community musicians to compare notes is helpful. It’s easier to do this this in smaller groups first before working with entire service workforces. (Click here for our presentation on workforce development at Music Mark 2018).

8, Encouraging ‘Teachers as researchers’ and ‘Pupils as Musicians’

Though we know community music encourages negotiation and learner voice, instrumental tutors have often worked in ‘telling mode’ to transmit technique to improve performance. However, many instrumental tutors tell us they’re increasingly noticing pupils’ mental health difficulties and are interested in offering a more holistic approach to balance this. Others have creative and inclusive practice that is valued locally by pupils, parents and schools, but is under the radar of music service managers. Listening to tutors helps services respond to this.

Some of our training draws on the ‘practice+questioning= learning’ approach of Action Leaning Sets, and begins by encouraging tutors to reflect on and share their experience of adapting practice to meet the needs of existing pupils. We encourage them to draw on their lived experience of learning music and of difficulty, to develop the more holistic response needed to engage CCC. One challenge here is that music services managers often advise tutors not to get into counselling style relationships with tutors; others see personal and social outcomes as the domain of their music therapy teams.

Youth Voice helped here. One PRU Head told us ‘These children have so many well-meaning interventions to improve wellbeing, they don’t want another.’

But both the PRUs and the pupils valued that tutors are musicians rather than teachers or therapists; so pupils have the status of becoming musicians, rather than receiving ‘interventions’. One PRU deputy commented enthusiastically ‘Paul just shows them a beat, stands back and says, ‘Right, you’re a drummer now!’

And of course, as well as personal and social, musical inclusion produces high-class musical outcomes, which are symbolically important to music services! And we’ve also found that participating in making music helps stakeholders and tutors value inclusive music-making far better than lots of words!

9, Developing a Case-Study Based approach

In response to this, we’re capturing outcomes through existing music service methods, for instance, by adapting the Hertfordshire lesson report forms. To begin mainstreaming inclusion, we’ve included some personal and social outcomes in report writing guidance to HMS tutors, to help capture the holistic outcomes they produce.

Some tutors found writing individual case studies trickier; discussing their practice in pairs helped develop these informally. Several settings valued how they demonstrated impact better than quantitative methods. Drawing on these helped produce setting case studies, and an overall project poster for a conference. ( Delegates loved the seeing the pupils’ comments here) Like calling pupils musicians, the tutors enjoy being Teacher Researchers, as it encouraged their agency to adapt practice to need;   absolutely vital to musical inclusion.

(Click here for more information about our developing case study-based approach.)

I hope it’s been helpful to hear about our approach to encourage music services, tutors, and pupils to produce and share their own learning, rather than being recipients of existing research.  Ideally, we hope there’ll be a call for more ground upwards research in the next national plan. In the meantime, many thanks to all of you who’ve responded to our invitation to share good practice on responding to Youth Voice. We’ll keep this open until April 2020, and will publish outcomes in Summer 2020. There’s more information on the learning from the first year of our project in our annual review we sent round in our bulletin.






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