Making sure children with disabilities get the support and equipment

they need for Whole Class Ensemble Teaching.

We launched the First Access Programme in 2019, partnering with Music Education Hubs (MEH’s) to enable disabled children to participate fully in Whole Class Ensemble Tuition (WCET). We do this by assessing them for need and providing adaptive equipment where needed before WCET begins.  

The Make Some Noise Research undertaken by the Take it Away Consortium (now the Inclusive Music Consortium) identified WCET as a major barrier to music making for disabled children who are educated in mainstream schools. Both parents and music educators reported that that WCET was often not accessible, and not meeting the needs of many disabled pupils. 

The project began as a pilot partnering with Nottingham Music Service – the lead organisation of the Nottingham Music Hub and a member of the Music Education Hubs of the East Midlands (MEHEM). We partnered with The OHMI Trust, who have many years of expertise in providing adapted musical instruments and assistive equipment. The following year we were joined by another MEHEM member Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT) – the lead organisation of the Northamptonshire Music Education Hub (NMEH). This year we welcome Service for Education, the lead service within the Birmingham MEH, and plan to continue to expand to make a difference to as many students as possible.  

Due to the impact of COVID-19, we adapted our assessment methods to be online, and this now allows us to have a much greater reach. We hope to continue to expand the programme to reach as many children who can benefit as possible.

Photo courtesy of Nottingham Music Hub