Seventeen schools across England will be piloting an innovative programme of inclusive music work with vulnerable young people in primary schools this Autumn. The programme will be delivered by their local music service as part of the Changing Tracks national programme run by Hertfordshire Music Service and funded by Youth Music.

This action research pilot is a rollout of a programme pioneered by Hertfordshire Music Service to reduce school exclusions. The aim is to help other music services to grow their understanding and skills in inclusive music work, and to support music tutors to develop new skills for working with children facing barriers to music and learning. The projects will run for six months, in one primary school per area.

What is a music nurture group?

A music nurture group is a weekly 30-minute creative instrumental music session for three-five young people in a primary school. Participants are identified by the school SENCO as being vulnerable and at risk of poor outcomes due to mental health, behaviour or general confidence difficulties. The aim is to provide a calm and nurturing environment where children can build their resilience and agency and develop a sense of belonging.

The Hertfordshire Music Service nurture group model draws on learning from previous Changing Tracks work in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), that children become excluded from school due to early difficulties preventing them settling into school, socialising and learning. Creative music nurture groups can help address this preventatively (of much interest to local authorities who often host music services), and can offer a way to embed inclusive practice within mainstream workforce development.

Who’s involved?

The music services who successfully applied for funding from Changing Tracks to pilot the nurture group programme with one school in their local area, are: Bury Music; Calderdale Music Trust; Milton Keynes Music Hub; Dorset Music Service; Merton Music Foundation; Lambeth Music Service; Sunderland Music Hub; Severn Arts (Worcestershire); Peterborough Music Hub; West Sussex Music; Wakefield Music Services;  East Riding Schools’ Music Service; SoundStorm Music Education Agency (Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole); Waltham Forest Music Education Hub;  Cornwall Music Service Trust; NMPAT (Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust); Liverpool Resonate.

Music service inclusion managers and tutors will receive support and resources from the Changing Tracks team, including guidance on how to set up, run and evaluate a music nurture group; training in the impact of trauma on learning; and regular critical reflection sessions – a space for tutors to share learning and advice and support each other. Outcomes will be shared through the Changing Tracks website, and the National Working Group for Musical Inclusion.

Find out more about nurture groups in the Nurture Groups resource section on the Changing Tracks website, and sign up to their e-newsletter or follow them on socials for inclusion resources and insights for and from music services.

To find out more about this project, visit the Changing Tracks website here.