Equality, Inclusion and Special Schools

There are a number of reasons why children and young people are not able to access the mainstream music making opportunities we have described.  We aim to treat all equally by starting with the abilities and experiences which they bring.  It is then our role as music educators to build on that to enable them to experience the full breadth of music making and develop as a young musician in the best way that suits them.  Underpinning this is the philosophy that music is a way to bring people together.  There may be occasions when music making is targeted at specific groups but these must always lead to making and sharing their music with others.


Many of the barriers have been explored in the report Overcoming Barriers to Participation as part of the Cultural Education Challenge programme supported by funding from A New Direction.  We shall be seeking to address these through the second part of the programme and through the Local Cultural Education Partnership.



Finance can be a barrier when parents and carers are asked to contribute to the cost of music lessons.  They can choose:

  • Free tuition through classroom music and online learning
  • Low cost large group tuition in CMA Star Classes and through CMA centre ensembles
  • A range of small group and individual lessons options.


Government funding is used to make lesson and ensemble membership fees affordable for low income families.



Sometimes children and young people, or their parents and carers, do not see certain types of music making as being for them.  This is addressed by engaging young people with all types of music and using role models which challenge such attitudes.



Sometimes children and young people are not able to access activity because of a special learning need or disability:

  • Access can sometimes be achieved through choice or adaptation of instrument such as a child with a missing finger joint on the left hand playing the violin ‘left handed’ or a child with one weak arm playing the plastic trumpet which is light enough to be played one handed.
  • Assistive technologies can be used to enable those with disabilities to make music where adapting existing technologies in musical instruments is not possible.
  • Where music specific exams are not appropriate, pupils can use their music making for Arts Award accreditation.


Alongside the other music education hubs in the South West London Music Education Partnership we plan to develop further the work in special schools and will be providing an SEND music education conference for teachers across South West London.  There are many different strands of SEND and by working across seven hubs we aim to share expertise and development for those working in the same strand.


One of the outcomes from the conference will be a joint approach to creating out of school opportunities.