Embedding inclusion into the music services quality assurance cycle – what might help? National Music Services Working Group on Inclusion, Feb ‘22

Lots of people on a Zoom call smiling

In our previous national working group (NWG), we looked at how we measure becoming more inclusive. In this latest session, we built on this by looking at the processes and stages at the heart of what music services do: our quality assurance cycles. We wanted to understand what forms of support and resources music services were using, or would find helpful, for embedding inclusion into each part of the cycle, including measuring becoming more inclusive (part of the ‘reporting’ part of the cycle).

We shared our model for a music service quality cycle that you’ll see below (and you can read more in our blog, Embedding inclusion within music service quality assurance cycles)

A circle featuring 5 blocks representing elements of the QA cycle - described in the blog

We then broke into groups to look at each stage of the quality cycle, and consider the following questions:

  • What resources or activity do you use that you can embed ED&I in? E.g. a form, a policy, staff groups …?
  • What other form of support does your service need? E.g. peer groups, buddying, training, consultancy …

We came back together to vote on what would be most useful and captured results in a ‘Mentimeter’ interactive survey.

The results: which of these 11 resources or other forms of support that you’ve suggested, will be most useful?

Bar chart depicting results of a survey described in the blog below

We’ve mapped these back against the five elements of the quality cycle and introduced these with some more detail from the conversations. The numbers referred to below (ie 5th, 9th, are from the diagram above.


In a music service that’s responsive to its stakeholders, planning starts with understanding and responding to need. Part of that is establishing partnerships with people working with vulnerable young people and planning together. For example, working with SENCOs to help teachers adapt to the needs and interests of young people. Or working with the Virtual School or other children and young peoples’ support services. Read our guidance on working with local authority teams. This then continues through all our project planning and budgeting. Planning can be curriculum planning or project planning – how do we bring inclusion into both? How can inclusion drive the business plan and related KPIs?

5th –  ED&I prompts within our project plan and budget plan formats. Many music services have a consistent format for these two, that they use for all projects and programmes. How can we adapt them to consider the needs of vulnerable young people? How do we embed an outcomes approach based on personal and social as well as musical outcomes?

9thTarget new service provision through an EDI focus. Whenever we are starting something new, use this as the opportunity to refresh our processes, tools and resources using an EDI lens.


Many music services said they struggle to recruit staff, and particularly to diversify their workforce. We’ve already co-created an inclusive job description, but we also need to consider where and how we advertise; and an induction process that introduces the values and purpose of the music service.

7thA shared approach to the recruitment of staff across a region, using a good understanding of need.

11thRecruitment resources that match local authority and music services’ ethos. This might include learning from how local authorities’ processes are built on the Equality Act.


We know teachers are the most important asset we have in developing an inclusive music service. How do we bring them on that journey? One music service talked of how they ran a ‘Why do you get out of bed?’ session with their tutors to encourage reflection on the purpose of their work, and of the music service. Another service shared a helpful quote from some training “everybody here already has the skills to offer a valuable experience: you bring to this the musician that you are.”  Read our resources on reflective practice.

1stHow to ensure youth voice influences our CPD offer (from how tutors talk with young people in lessons, to how we find out what young people are interested in doing, and how this influences the training we offer our workforce)

2ndHow to encourage and facilitate reflective practice in the staff and freelancers we manage – support for line managers to do this, extending across the hub too

3rdWhole staff CPD days, specialised tuition development with an outcomes approach to reach the whole workforce

4thCritical reflection groups for staff and freelancers – including fresh insights from people who work with vulnerable groups eg Emotional Literacy Assistants


We have many processes and systems for performance management: how much do these help us to recognise good inclusive practice, starting with youth voice and differentiated learning? 

6thPrompts for instrumental/vocal teachers’ lesson observations


This might include everything from capturing and reporting on engagement, retention and progression; to gathering baseline data on the vulnerable young people in our area. Every local authority has data and a plan that covers this (in some cases it may be called a Joint Strategic Needs Analysis or a Children & Young People’s Plan). It will also include lesson report forms (can these include social and personal outcomes? Could they support schools’ end of year reports for parents?). And it will also include reporting to our wider stakeholders – and bringing them on board with an expanded view of ‘the purpose of a music service’.

8th Individual Learning Plans created with young people (this might require resources such as Pupil Profiles, Individual Learning Plan templates to document and track aspirations and goals). These will not only create personalised learning pathways and feed into progression routes: but will also help us understand our customers better and feed into needs analysis.


A 10th request was to remove barriers to sharing resources, tools, and insights. Changing Tracks is here to help music services to share their learning around inclusion: creating new resources where needed or sharing existing resources from music services to save reinventing the wheel. Do you have any resources, templates or tools that are mentioned above? If so, get in touch. These could either feed into our Task and Finish Groups or be shared on our website.

What next?

We’ll be setting up task and finish groups, sharing resources, or peer groups, training or other forms of support in response. So we’d now like to hear from you. Do you agree with the choices here? Do you have anything to add? What form of resources or support would help you to embed inclusion in your quality assurance cycle?

We’ve also been thinking that music services’ lesson administration systems could be used to capture data on the engagement, retention and progression of the young people who are experiencing challenging circumstances. We believe these to be key metrics to help music services measure becoming more inclusive.

Our final question: Do you have an ED&I action plan for your music service?

Bar chart showing whether people have an EDI action plan

At the end of the session, we also asked people to let us know if they had an ED&I action plan – see the results above. 8 said ‘yes, shared with ACE/added to our business plan’, 7 said yes, in draft and no-one said not yet.

“Does our Inclusion Strategy count?” was a question asked by one participant. Our answer was that it depends if it has a clear action plan included. By this we mean a process such as the Changing Tracks EDI action planning used in bootcamps and with our partners: one which focuses on transforming music service practice, policies and purposes. This in turn prepares us for commissioning work through the wider hub. We’ve heard from many music services that, once they’ve developed their strategy, they’re left thinking ‘but where do we start’. This is why we created our ED&I bootcamps so if you’re in the same situation, we hope you’ll join us for one – see the links below for current dates (more will be released for July onwards).

Further support and reading:

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