City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra awarded £87,600 to further work in special schools


The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) has been awarded a grant of £87,600 by national funder Youth Music to support the expansion of the CBSO’s work in special schools, enabling it to bring musical experiences to over 1,000 young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) during 2017 and 2018.

Research shows that enabling children and young people with SEND to participate in regular music-making activities makes a major contribution to their learning, social and personal development.

Over the duration of the CBSO’s ‘Music & Ability’ project 400 pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) will have opportunities to develop personal, social and musical skills through intensive residencies in special schools in Birmingham, Bromsgrove and Solihull over five terms. In partnership with the Birmingham Music Education Hub, CBSO musicians will make ‘inspiration’ visits to a further six West Midland’s schools, giving interactive performances and leading taster workshops for pupils.

Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music, said:

We’re very pleased to be investing in this exciting and inclusive project. It’s fantastic to see an orchestra engaging in long-term, meaningful and creative work with special school pupils — a key priority area for Youth Music — as well as helping artists and teachers to develop professionally. The CBSO are creating vital opportunities for children and young people who are all-too-often excluded from music-making.

These activities will complement the CBSO’s existing annual Relaxed Concerts for special school pupils from across the region, which are given by a 10 piece mini-orchestra and devised specifically for SEND pupils.

Lucy Galliard, CBSO Director of Learning and Engagement commented:

We are delighted to have received this endorsement of our work from Youth Music. Their generous support will enable us to provide life-enhancing opportunities for dozens of children with special educational needs in the West Midlands, as well as helping our musicians to develop specialised inclusive creative music-making activities for young people with profound learning disabilities.

Stephanie Draper, Music Leader at Chadsgrove School in Bromsgrove said:

Chadsgrove School is extremely fortunate to benefit from an increasingly special partnership with musicians from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Their work provides our pupils with invaluable opportunities to express themselves through the medium of classical music, and enables them to explore a rich sound environment that enhances their learning and development in all curriculum areas.

The grant will also support a programme of training for musicians and teachers to develop a cohort of CBSO musicians who can deliver creative music making activities for special school pupils, and to enable teachers to maintain regular musical activities with their pupils after the project has concluded.

Jackie Tyler, CBSO Cellist commented:

Working with children with such profound disabilities is a reminder that music is an amazing form of communication and a great motivator. Tapping into a connection with these pupils encourages us to communicate our music to its full potential and as such feeds into our performances in the concert hall.

Throughout the project a toolkit will be developed for orchestral musicians to support them in their delivery in special schools, which the CBSO will share with colleagues at other UK orchestras at the end of the project. The CBSO will also host a conference for orchestras and learning practitioners in November 2018, where it will share its learnings from the project.


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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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