New version of Youth Music's quality framework for use in SEN/D settings

Drake Music, one of Youth Music’s strategic partners, have shared their expertise on music-making with disabled young people, in a new version of our reflective practice tool.

What is the quality framework?

A quality framework is a tool to help you understand, measure and evaluate quality in your work. Youth Music’s quality framework - Do, Review, Improve - gathers together all the criteria we believe demonstrate quality in a music-making session. It’s based on evidence we’ve been gathering from the projects we’ve supported since we began in 1999.

We ask all organisations funded by Youth Music to use Do, Review, Improve to reflect on their practice. And we ask anyone applying to us for funding to show how they would build it into their project. However the quality framework can be used by anyone leading a music-making session for children and young people: it’s not just for those holding Youth Music grants.

You can use Do, Review, Improve for planning, peer observation or self-reflection. It’s not intended to be a test, and you don’t need to score yourself or rank yourself against others. Instead, the quality framework is designed to help you think about your practice and the principles behind it, and to identify areas you may wish to develop.


Why have we created a new version for projects delivered in SEN/D settings?

Youth Music’s quality framework is flexible and can be used for any kind of music-making project. However, the criteria might look different in different kinds of settings. There are increasing numbers of young people with additional needs participating in music-making. Around a quarter of projects supported by Youth Music specialise in working with children and young people in special educational needs and/or disability settings.

Drake Music is one of Youth Music’s strategic partners. They’re experts in music delivery in SEN/D settings and in using technology to break down disabling barriers to music-making.

They’ve taken the original quality framework (first published in 2013), and built upon it in the following ways:

  • Adding extra information offering practical insights and suggestions for making music with young people with additional needs.  
  • Giving examples illustrating how these suggestions might work in practice.

Download Do, Review, Improve… A quality framework for use in music-making sessions working with young people in SEN/D settings (PDF version)

Download Do, Review, Improve… A quality framework for use in music-making sessions working with young people in SEN/D settings (Word version)

Click here for the original version of Youth Music's quality framework.

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Count Me In's picture

This is great - covering a lot of territory with some pragmatic ideas.

Wondering if S3 needs expanding? - the young person's view being integral to the session - because, really, this is the cornerstone of good practice. We need to get this right to be working effectively.

It's very true that being prepared helps, using AAC, VOCA or whatever systems the young person chooses. That would be good practice in any situation.

Effective communication is something that all music leaders need to feel confident about.  It comes back to the perennial issue around finding out what young SEN musicians enjoy / don't enjoy and what they want to do. This is so important for evaluation, delivery and progress.

We do have a culture of asking people for feedback. We musn't forget that questioning in itself can be difficult for young people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

Closed questions can lead to a difficult choice that can be skewed by a response which echoes the questioner or is the response the young person thinks will please : the dynamic between the interviewer and the young musician is always a factor.

Open questions require reflection, recall, and the ability to process and voice abstract concepts.

In our sessions, we've found it useful to embed feedback opportunities, conducted in the same way, at the same time, with adults and young people contributing equally. All contrbutions are valued. We notice the way young people engage in this process becomes more relevant and useful over time : familiarity, modelling, expectations, repetition are all helpful. People move on from stock responses and begin to reference their personal, unique experience. Everything is recorded, and is key to our delivery plans.

Questioning doesn't need to be the cornerstone of effective communication. Prompting, scaffolding, developing verbal systems that suit the needs of the young musician are all effective. When you think about it - enabling communication actually uses the same skillsets as good music leading. The more familiar things become, the easier it is for us to step back as leaders.

Nicola Groves Big Book of Storysharing has clear suggestions for enabling communication confidence, scaffolding and co-narration.

JWestrup's picture

Thanks for your post Nicola; I think your focus and comments on identity and voice for young disabled musicians is at the heart of the process for all of us in the sector. And these are skills that need teaching! I think we're just emerging from a time when music was commonly done 'to' disabled young people rather than with or alongside them. Developments in teaching and learning approaches + ever accessible music technology has meant that we are seeing a new, golden age of participation beginning (long may it flourish) Putting communication, opinion and feedback at the centre of that process is vital to get the whole picture. We hope that use of and discussion around the new QF will bring these principles into the light and get people thinking about how they do things and where we can all get better.