Delivering Arts Award Discover on a large scale: celebrating success

Delivering Arts Award Discover on a large scale: celebrating success

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BY: Guest Writer
27 Jan 2020

Entrust Music Service Staffordshire is the lead partner of The Music Partnership, the music education hub for Staffordshire, Stoke-on Trent and Telford. We hear from David Smalley, Head of Teaching and Learning who tells us how they enabled 2,000 young people to achieve their Arts Award Discover.

Entrust LogoAs with all music education hubs delivering on A National Plan for Music Education, we offer support to schools in developing their music curriculum and offer for young people.

Our Whole Class Ensemble Teaching offer, locally known as Key to Music or K2M, is available to schools who wish to provide the opportunity to a whole class of young people to learn to play an instrument. Our successful programme means that around 3,000 young people learn to play an instrument in this setting each week. In 2017 we were 10 years into this model of teaching and whilst we had adapted and refreshed it along the way, making sure that we celebrated success and achievement through concerts and our own certificates, we felt that there was still more we could do.

How could we celebrate, more formally, the success of our programme in a way that was fun, recognised and easily integrated into our present programme?

External music exams, prep tests or pre-level one exams seemed prohibitive on cost and didn’t completely match with our approach to teaching and learning in a whole class setting. Arts Award Discover presented itself to be the ideal solution for this and so we embarked on a plan to get our teachers trained and allocated funding to support this.

Pilot year

2017 was our pilot year and we trained 14 of our whole class teachers as Discover and Explore advisers, Four boys playing drumsidentifying a small number of schools to test it on. We designed a bespoke Discover booklet for the service so that each child had a sleek and professional way to record their ideas and activities. In the first year almost 400 young people achieved Arts Award Discover and schools could present the certificates in a celebration of their success. It wasn’t just the pupils that enjoyed it, the instrumental teachers found it hugely rewarding and the schools embraced the request to explore the arts further, outside of music lessons.

Roll forward to 2018 and a further 15 teachers were trained and Arts Award Discover was offered to all schools in the programme. A refreshed booklet and a track record in delivering the programme from the previous pilot and we were heading towards 2,000 young people achieving their Discover!

Boy playing keyboard to teacherWas it easy?

Coordinating 30 teachers in the teaching and learning pedagogy took a bit of effort but because we were able to use music as the primary focus in promoting ‘the arts’ we integrated it into our existing programme well, with a little help from BBC Ten Pieces…

What next, I hear you ask?

This year we are looking for ways to use this in our inclusion developments with children in Special Schools and Looked After Children and this feels even more exciting than the last two years!


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Thomas Ashton School photo Roger V Moody

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