by Author GwynethLamb

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'Making it work' a pupil referral unit. Practice sharing film 1

‘Musical Inclusion – Making it Work’

A series of films sharing practice, reflections and experience of Musical Inclusion from Teesside.

Making it work…in a Pupil Referral Unit

How do you make Musical Inclusion work in a Pupil Referral Unit?  Where young people can be seriously disengaged from education, have had negative experiences of school and are often living in immensely difficult personal and family circumstances?  And where young people are there because they have to be, not because they want to be ?

We are glad to be able to share our experience of ‘Making it work’ at Hartlepool Pupil Referral unit.  In this film, music leader Duncan Kirby shares his experience and practice. 

Duncan has been ‘musician in residence’ at Hartlepool PRU over a full school year.   His specialism is music technology and he started by going out on the regular ‘outward bound’ days – getting wet and cold, fording streams, walking up hills – doing whatever the young people were doing.   And, at the same time, recording ‘found sounds’ with the young people – the sound of water flowing, of cutting wood, the sound of the minibus engine.  The following day he worked with the young people back at the PRU using the recorded sounds to create soundscapes or to integrate them into tracks the young people created.

Duncan talks about how this captured the young people’s attention, enabling him to build a relationship with them and gain their trust.  Focus and attention spans are a particular issue for these young people, and he talks about how he has adapted his practice to accommodate this.   He goes onto show how music is now integrated into other aspects of the PRU curriculum, with specific examples of how it is being used to support  maths  teaching.




What we learned:

‘It’s all about relationships’ – and about a music leader having the right approach.  Duncan was new to music leading at the start, but could relate to the young people and has developed his skills through the project   Initially musinc placed Duncan at the PRU for one and a half days per week. By Easter he was there full time – with the PRU itself engaging him for the rest of the week

It’s about working in partnership – Duncan was working alongside the highly skilled and professional staff at the PRU who guided and supported him

That very small group or even one to one work is really effective.  It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the impact

That, given the right support, such ‘challenging’ young people can achieve.  Two young people gained Arts Award Explore in the summer term, and one has gone on to the Level 2 Music Technology course at Middlesbrough College

That sometimes we need to be brave and try new ways of working.  The ‘musician in residence’ model enabled Duncan to become part of the PRU and build relationships in a way that just wouldn’t be possible in once a week session.

Watch our compilation practice sharing film, which includes an overview of all the projects we will feature over the coming months here.