Langley Hall Primary Academy: ‘Music for All’ | newschoolsnetwork.org

Langley Hall Primary Academy: ‘Music for All’

On Tuesday 2nd July, Langley Hall Primary Academy (LHPA) hosted a Spotlight visit for open and approved free school leaders. LHPA was approved in the first wave of the Government’s free school initiative, and was one of only 24 schools to open in 2011.

The Spotlight visit included many exciting activities; from learning musical instruments and performing ‘Viva la Vida’ by Coldplay with the children, to visiting one of the school farms. We even ate our lunch in a converted pub, which now functions as the school’s canteen.

 

While I could write pages about the tremendous extracurricular activities on offer at LHPA, I think it would be more useful to delve into one of the key aspects of the school’s curriculum: the ‘Music for All’ programme, and how it can be captured and implemented in other schools.

 

The school stands firm in the belief that music is beneficial to children’s learning and development. At LHPA:

  • All pupils have singing classes from Year 1. Pupils also learn to play the recorder from the beginning of the year, and the violin from the summer term.
  • From Year 4, students have the opportunity to learn either the cello, flute, clarinet, keyboard or drums.
  • All students take part in one and a half hours of music a week. In Years 1-3, they have three 30-minute lessons and from Year 4 onwards this becomes two 45-minute sessions.

 

I know what you’re thinking, that’s a lot of musical instruments, both in variety and in quantity being transported around the school. You may have some questions like: how do these workshops fit into the timetabled curriculum? How does the school afford to provide these lessons? How is behaviour managed in these lessons? What about the students who are not as able?

 

Well, these were all the questions I had too. Luckily, LHPA has all the answers. If you are a Head of Music at a free school or a headteacher looking to implement more music provision in your school, keep calm and keep on reading. It can be done and it doesn’t have to be expensive!

 

Getting your staff, students and parents/guardians on board with the vision of the programme:


At LHPA, music is deeply embedded as an important part of school life. This means making sure the SLT, the school’s governors and trustees, the teachers, and the parents, guardians and students are supportive of the programme. When a parent enrols their child to LHPA, they have to ‘buy-in’ to the school’s ethos and vision. The school clearly outlines their music philosophy in their admissions policy and parents are asked to sign a home/school contract to confirm their acceptance of these requirements. This sets a precedent for students to enjoy music and support the cause from the get go.

 

How will you fund a ‘Music for All’ initiative?

 

At Langley the music team consists of 15 visiting hourly-paid teachers plus eight salaried members of staff who contribute to the music programme. The salaried teachers are involved in delivering flute, singing and music appreciation classes, whereas, the hourly paid teachers are specialists in their respective instruments.

InstrumentYr 1Yr 2Yr 3 Yr 4 Yrs 5&6Notes
Violin6060601618Every child to have their own violin purchased by parents or through funding
Recorder6060603030Every child to have their own recorder purchased by parents or through funding
Cello    12School to purchase and loan to pupil to keep as their own whilst learning 
Clarinet   1010School to purchase and loan to pupil to keep as their own whilst learning
Flute    16School to purchase and loan to pupil to keep as their own whilst learning
Cornet    16School to purchase and loan to pupil to keep as their own whilst learning
African drum   1212Purchased by school and kept at school, or sponsorship from local company
Keyboard   1212Purchased by school and kept at school, or sponsorship from local company
Ukelele    10Purchased by school and kept at school, or sponsorship from local company

 

Parents must commit to order a violin as part of the home/school agreement at the cost of £87. The school hosts second hand sales, where parents can buy a second hand violin for £40. The school is committed to making sure everyone takes part in the programme and also loans violins to students on free school meals. There are several funding options suggested by the school to fund buying new music equipment. For example, approaching local or national companies that share the schools vision, to purchase a certain number of school musical equipment.

 

Timetabling and behaviour management

 

With all 732 pupils receiving 1½ hours a week of music lessons, the big question is: how is this timetabled around core subjects and how is the behaviour in the workshops managed?

 

Timetabling music workshops around core subjects is going to differ in every school, depending on the curriculum and the number of students on roll. LHPA makes it work by devoting the afternoons of the school day to music. Music workshops are always held between 1:00pm and 3:30pm in the afternoon, which coincides with games classes, freeing up classrooms to practice in. See below for an example of how you could timetable music workshops for a two-form entry Year 1 class. 

 Own classroom AOwn classroom BAnother year group classroom when they are at games AAnother year group classroom when they are at games B
LessonViolinViolinSingingRecorder
1.30-2pmGroup 1: 10Group 2: 10Group 3 & 4: 20 Groups 5 & 6: 20
2-2.30pmGroup 3: 10Group 4: 10Group 5 & 6: 20Group 1 & 2: 20
2.30-3pmGroup 5: 10Group 6: 10Group 1 & 2: 20Group 3 & 4: 20

Throughout our visit, we could really see the children’s enthusiasm for music. Behaviour is also carefully monitored by each leader of a workshop using a tablet to record attendance, record any absence of musical instruments and to note the behaviour and commitment of each student in the workshop. If a student is recorded to behave poorly in a workshop, an automatic email is sent home to parents notifying them. This is followed up by a meeting with the Head of Music.

 

At the end of the day, with ‘Viva la Vida’ still stuck in my head, I was pleased to see that this visit inspired many school leaders to implement ‘Music for All’ in their schools, but also showed them that they can make their vision happen.

 

If you are interested in learning more about LHPA’s ‘Music for All’ programme you can watch their documentary here. Or get in touch with us at open@newschoolsnetwork.org and we can put you in contact with LHPA, who will be happy to share advise on their curriculum and training resources.

 

Many thanks to LHPA for hosting such an informative and inspirational visit!  

Blog topic:
Teaching, teaching methods, teacher’s view or in the classroom