[PROGRAMME UPDATE] Deeper, lasting change and rolling out what works #2

As a founder organisation in the Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England (AMIE) network, we’re keen to see inclusion adopted faster and more widely across the music education sector. A lot has already changed: and the pandemic has caused people to reflect and question more than ever before. So how can we support people to take practical steps to turn good intentions into action?

Changing Tracks’ initial response to this question has been to develop a series of four, one-hour, twilight ED&I (Equality, diversity and inclusion) bootcamps for music service leaders and inclusion managers, starting on 12 May.

We knew we’d touched on something when the series sold out within a day, and the waitlist for future bootcamps has been growing ever since. So we will be running two more series in the summer term, and have plans to continue in the Autumn.

Why ED&I bootcamps, why now?

We’ve come a long way since the beginning of our programme. Changing Tracks (then MusicNet East) began as an action research programme, focused on testing approaches to inclusion by putting tutors at the centre of research and learning. This was backed up by a single peer network of music service leads – the National Music Services Working Group on Inclusion (NWG) who met termly, shared their learning about the challenges and barriers to inclusion.

In the last year, the NWG has really come into its own. Discussion has been more open, honest and trusting, and there’s been a greater sense of urgency to make change happen. 

We started to realise that one of the barriers to change was that leaders felt overwhelmed by all that needed to be done. And in fact, a strategy and audit process could, unintentionally, become a convenient way to avoid actually doing anything about inclusion within a music service as a hub lead organisation.

How can we support music services to be more inclusive and resilient?

We’ve gradually learned that music services are more resilient and able to have a greater impact on children and young people when:

  • they fully engage in creating their own Equality Diversity and Inclusion action plan, embedded as part of wider music service strategies 
  • the ED&I action plan is the result of diverse conversations at all levels of the organisation
  • ED&I is owned and driven equally by tutors through their practice, and leaders through cultural and organisational change  
  • they work to diversify progression routes and pedagogy: diversity should go beyond representation  
  • as hub leads, they take responsibility to encourage and influence hub partners to fully engage in creating their own EDI action plans, and role model good practice to hub partners.

What are we doing next?

April 2021 sees us begin year four of our AMIE programme, which will end after year five in April 2023. With two years to go, we want to make sure our legacy is deep, and lasting change. So our planned activities are far more focused and intentional. They include:

  • focusing on practical ED&I action plans – as we believe this is where change will really happen – setting realistic targets and plans for inclusion in business and workforce development, recruitment, culture and leadership, pedagogy and practice for music tutors, and progression routes
  • running peer learning working groups for senior leaders, inclusion project managers, and tutors encouraging music service staff to support and challenge each other as they share their learning about the drivers and challenges around inclusion
  • running topic-specific working groups 
  • empowering music tutors to develop their practice through action research and reflective practice
  • providing training and support around ED&I action planning, lead inclusion tutor training, trauma and attachment-informed instrumental teaching, how to run a nurture group for vulnerable young people, using songwriting for inclusion in instrumental teaching, setting up critical reflection groups for music service tutors, setting up youth music councils, Thrive/STEPS wellbeing training organised by your local LA
  • sharing learning content and resources on our website, social media channels, and through wider sector communications channels and events 

Importantly, throughout all these activities, we’ll be looking at how inclusion sits within music services policies and processes.

Make sure to sign up for our enews and follow us on social media if you’re interested in hearing more about working groups, training and consultancy, or simply want to keep informed as we share our learning content and resources.

Changing Tracks is a programme of peer support and learning for and with music services wanting to improve equality, diversity and inclusion. It is run by Hertfordshire Music Service and funded by Youth Music as part of the Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England. It was previously called MusicNet East. We help music services to be more inclusive by providing a peer network facilitated by Music Mark, funding for action research, support and challenge, advice and resources.

Find out more about us, or check out the other resources and blogs on this site for more helpf for music services, or visit the AMIE Musical Inclusion Resource Hub for more inclusion tools and guidance, blogs, videos, and case studies, to help you break down barriers to music-making.

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