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

The musical nurture group model was pioneered by Hertfordshire Music Education Hub as an action research programme to reduce school exclusions. The aim is to help other hub lead organisations 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 action research in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), that children become excluded from school due to early difficulties preventing them settling into school, socialising and learning.

A creative musical nurture group is a practical way for hubs to develop and implement their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan, which all hubs are required to publish by December 2022. A nurture group helps by embedding inclusion within mainstream instrumental music teaching, and linking hubs to school and local authority preventative health and inclusion agendas.

Who’s involved?

The hub lead organisations who successfully applied for funding for nurture groups, are:

Buckingham Music Trust, Cumbria Music Service, Gateshead Music Service, Harrow Music Service, Lancashire Music Service, Leeds Music Education Partnership (ArtForms), Leicestershire Music Service, Musica Kirklees, Portsmouth Music Service, Solihull Music, Southwark Music, Sutton Music Service, Swindon Music Service, Tameside Music Service (Manchester), Trafford Music Service.

Hub inclusion managers and one tutor in each service 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 enewsletter or follow them on socials for inclusion resources and insights for and from hub lead organisations.

About Changing Tracks

Changing Tracks is a programme of peer support and learning for, with and by music education hub lead organisations, who want to improve equality, diversity and inclusion. It is run by Hertfordshire Music Service , the hub lead organisation for the county, and backed by Youth Music, thanks to the National Lottery via Arts Council England. They help music services to be more inclusive by providing peer networks (one of which is facilitated by Music Mark), training events and consultancy, advice and resources and funding for action research.

About Hertfordshire Music Service

For over 40 years Hertfordshire Music Service has successfully delivered musical opportunities to generations of young people throughout the county. The service is now one of the largest in the country with many thousands of young people involved in their weekly musical activities, supported by over 450 teachers.

They receive funding from the Department for Education through the Arts Council England, as well as generous support from Hertfordshire County Council to provide world class music tuition to the residents and families of Hertfordshire. Find out more.

About Youth Music

Youth Music believe that every young person should have the chance to change their life through music. Yet their research shows that many can’t because of who they are, where they’re from or what they’re going through.

Their insights, influence and investment in grassroots organisations and to young people themselves means that more 0–25-year-olds can make, learn and earn in music.

Youth Music is a national charity funded thanks to the National Lottery via Arts Council England, players of People’s Postcode Lottery and support from partners, fundraisers and donors. Find out more.