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Ensemble opportunities for young people with special educational needs

How did we ensure equality and enable musical opportunities not currently provided for young people with special educational needs?

In the National Plan for Music, Darren Henley advocated that every child should: 


  • have access to music education in and out of school;
  • receive a musical education from the age of 5-14 years whilst in school;
  • participate in whole-class, ensemble music-making for ideally a year (minimum one term); to play and perform in an ensemble; clear progression routes that are accessible and affordable; to be enabled to sing regularly;
  • use music technology to support and enable their learning.



However, Ofsted found that young people with special educational needs (SEN) are underrepresented in ensembles and consequently do not have similarly accessible learning pathways. 


Working in partnership with the Lambeth Music Hub, Music Making SENse aims to champion equality in music education by delivering and enabling ensemble music-making opportunities in SEN schools and working with hub partners to create long-term progression routes for young people attending SEN schools. 


Our research identifies a number of stepping stones to achieve this ambition: 

  • increased training, resources and skills sharing by SEN music specialists for music hub and SEN school staff so that they can enable ensembles in and out of school 
  • greater access to activities provided by hub partners, combined with clearer signposting to families of SEN young people
  • Further research into the special and specific benefits of ensemble music-making for SEN young people



Through our Youth Music project we have created a toolkit to support music and SEN professionals 

in delivering SEN ensembles. You can access this via the link below. We have also begun our research into the impact of ensemble music-making for SEN young people, looking at how the group setting and peer interaction enrich music learning; this is available via our website. We hope to continue to increase opportunities for ensemble music-making and clear musical progression routes nationwide through our future projects. We would be interested to hear about and connect with other ensemble-based music projects for young people with special education needs. Please do get in touch and share the impact of your work. 




Kim Perkins, Director of Music Making SENse. 


Music Making SENse is the lead delivery partner of Lambeth Music Hub’s ‘Banding together: Developing learning pathways for young people with special educational needs’ project. The project has encouraged the development of ensemble learning in SEN schools, shared the benefits of group music making, and broad the musical experiences of its participants.  



Please visit our website for further details of our project and materials that may help you to plan and deliver music ensembles for young people with special educational needs.


National Plan for Music: 



You can watch a video of one of our bands here: