Joint winners of the Music Education Council Music Education Awards 2016, announced at the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence ceremony as part of Music Education Expo 2017:
- Bristol Plays Music
- Portsmouth Music Hub
This year, we had a shortlist of seven from which to choose our overall winner. Some years we cannot choose a winner – or rather, we cannot choose a single winner, no matter how hard we try. Inclusivity demands that we don’t look for artificial distinctions between submissions – so this year we again have joint winners. This is a summary of the judges’ appraisal of the two winners.
Bristol Plays Music
Here’s a hub that takes its cues from the Stanford principles of collective impact and collaborative action: easy to say, but hard to pull off. We thought Bristol Plays Music were already well on the road to success, especially with its flagship inclusion strategy A new ambition for inclusive excellence, which has set itself the challenge of transforming music education for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities, and for looked after children.
This is a bold, cohesive, approach that is delivering impressive work across many areas including inspirational first access provision. A new El Sistema-inspired programme is credited by one school as helping it transform from “special measures to the good school it is today”. And we liked the continuation of the Beat Lab creative music technology programme. Backing this up is a detailed curriculum package for schools and a comprehensive CPD programme. And the hub is using Sound and Music’s Minute of listening pack to support the development of those crucial listening skills.
And the music just flows out; the highlight probably being BBC Radio 3's live broadcast featuring the South West Open Youth Orchestra, The ReVoice neurological choir, Bristol Youth Choir and British Paraorchestra.
Portsmouth Music Hub
An admirable application, in which every single element is strong, and most are tried and tested from previous years. Talented pupils are recognised in a dozen genres, from urban to opera by way of jazz and military.
There is a deep understanding of the needs of children and young people in challenging circumstances. Not only is provision wide ranging – free oboe lessons, rock groups working with hard to reach young people, bespoke instrumental learning for visually-impaired students – but the consequences are thought through: so the hub guarantees to find appropriate ensembles for all young people at all stages of instrumental learning.
We liked the award-winning songbooks. We liked the sheer quantity of music making: here, linked to the history curriculum; there, a beginners’ recorder festival. A community musical; a celebration of the hub’s rock bands. A ceilidh. A choral extravaganza.
And underpinning all this, two things. First, the commitment and passion, coupled to a huge energy, of the hub lead. And second, the partners. A most carefully-chosen set of interests – including a folk organisation, a commercial strategy company, a Friends, and the university – with every partner present for a concrete, known purpose.
The judges' full report of the awards process can be found here.