PARTNERSHIPS & SUSTAINABILITY – a response from Changing Tracks to the refreshed National Plan for Music Education in England (NPME2)

It’s great to see inclusion focus strongly in the refreshed National Plan for Music Education – The Power of Music to Change Lives (NPME2). The joint Music Mark/MEC session on 28th June emphasised how the plan is not ‘fixed’ and set out an invitation for music educators to work together to develop it further over the next 10 years. This blog , a series of three, reviews some of the changes against Changing Tracks recommendations to the NPME2 panel and identifies opportunities to take these further in the coming years.

Our action research on the drivers and barriers to inclusion  is the result of work led by Hertfordshire Music Service (the lead for the county’s music education hub) and funded by Youth Music, in partnership with more than 55 (and growing) music education hub lead organisations, over six years. The research process goes back to 2003, with Youth Music funding from 2007.

As originally set out in the Music Manifesto, and reinforced in NPME and NPME2, no one musical organisation or location can meet the musical interests and needs of all young people. The Plan suggests two strategic functions which we feel are linked, and which we discuss in this blog:

  1. Partnership: Take a leading role in building sustainable, local infrastructure for high quality music education and music making, in partnership with schools, early years and other education providers, community music organisations and other regional and national youth music organisations and industry. Capture this offer in a Local Plan for Music Education
  2. Sustainability: Ensure the strategic, financial, and operational sustainability of the Music
    Hub by i) supporting a dynamic and well trained work force (ii) leveraging DfE funding to develop wider investment into YP’s music from a range of sources and revenue streams (iii) being accountable and transparent by publishing plans, needs analysis and impact data; and (iv) considering and acting on the Hub’s environmental responsibilities

Local authorities

One potential partnership that can be overlooked, and indeed isn’t included in NPME2, is that with local authorities. We’ve identified the benefits of hubs developing partnerships with local authorities.

Local authority teams working to support disadvantaged young people and families, will be mapping areas of need, will have ED and I teams that can offer resources and consultancy, and in some cases offer match-funding for musical inclusion projects[1].

The benefits are two-way: music can help local authorities to achieve their aims, not only by supporting social and personal outcomes, but also by offering other ways to reach young people and families.

Academy trusts

NPME2 sets out the importance of partnerships with Academy trusts. Changing Tracks has been talking about the value of integrating schools and music hubs for a while. We’ll be looking at schools in next week’s blog.

Inter-hub partnerships of learning and communities of practice

As the lead organisation for Changing Tracks, Hertfordshire Music Service (the lead organisation for the county’s music education hub) has now developed a national reputation as a leader for embedding musical inclusion within instrumental music teaching.  We were grateful for our ‘EDI Bootcamps’ being kindly referenced as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in Music Mark’s NPME2 session recently.

Much of Changing Tracks’ work has been supported by successive grant funding by Youth Music, and has involved bringing together leaders and tutors from neighbouring hubs initially, and more recently nationally. We always approach these as a safe space for mutual learning as much as dissemination of learning or top-down approaches.

Changing Tracks has found that effective development begins by listening to and building on what hubs are already doing, in the form of peer group discussions. Our National Music Services Working Group on Inclusion and ED&I Bootcamps open a space for partners to share challenges as well as celebrate good practice, and to focus on learning rather than victory narratives.

The business case for partnerships

For all hubs, relationships with schools and local authorities can secure new income through commissions, partnerships and funding. This can become a catalyst for organisational development, making hubs more effective, relevant and resilient. Find out more in our blog about Inclusion: the business case for music services and music education hubs


[1] Waltham Forest Council are funding a creative musical nurture group in each primary school in the borough.

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