“Singing is one of the most positive forms of human activity, supporting physical, mental, emotional and social health, as well as individual development in the same areas. Successful singing is important because it builds self-confidence, promotes self-esteem, always engages emotion, promotes social inclusion, supports social skill development, and enables young people of different ages and abilities to come together successfully to create something special in the arts.” 1
The National Plan for Music Education sets out core roles for Music Education Hubs and one of these is to:
Develop a singing strategy to ensure that every pupil is singing regularly and that choirs and other vocal ensembles are available in the area. 2
A central role for MEHs, therefore, is to support schools in the delivery of singing, both as part of the music curriculum and as an extra-curricular activity, and to ensure that, beyond school, young singers have access to further progression routes into choirs and other opportunities for vocal learning and performance.
The Department for Education’s recently published Model Music Curriculum 3 emphasises the importance of singing in music provision, and sets benchmarks for progress in singing year by year in primary schools, culminating with:
Through good vocal production, careful listening and well-developed sense of pitch, pupils should be able to sing in harmony and with musical delivery by the end of Year 6.
and in secondary schools at Key Stage 3:
Building on the inheritance from the excellent practice in many primary schools, the MMC promotes progression in group singing by strengthening pupils’ ability to sing in harmony, while further developing sound production and expressive performance.
At the time of writing, singing in schools has suffered profoundly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Singing itself is in urgent need of recovery, as childhood and early adulthood are crucial stages for laying the foundations for lifelong singing. Furthermore, singing can support schools in addressing broader losses and inequalities, as it is a powerful tool that can support not only social and emotional recovery and well-being in our school communities, but also learning and recovery across the curriculum.
1 This excellent summary is taken from a more detailed article by Professor Welch on the benefits of singing, which can be found here https://www.singup.org/blog/article/1390-the-benefits-of-singing/
2 Detailed guidance on this core role from Arts Council England is reproduced at the end of this document.
3 The Model Music Curriculum guidance was published by the DfE on 26th March 2021 and can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974366/Model_Music_Curriculum_Full.pdf
BEAT’s vision for singing
Singing is a powerful form of self-expression, communication and performance, through which we can connect with music makers across every culture and throughout history – and it is free and accessible to all. Singing is therefore an end in itself, but it is also foundational to musical learning, as well as bringing many other social, emotional and educational benefits.
BEAT wants every child in Barnet to be able to unlock the potential of their voice and to be given a foundation for a positive lifelong singing and musical identity.
BEAT’s mission for singing
To support and value singing at every level across Barnet’s schools and our Music Academies by working to achieve:
- Access to singing for all young people – from the early years and through all phases of their education.
- Quality of provision – by supporting school staff and those teaching directly for BEAT with training, high quality resources and performance opportunities.
- Progression in singing – by providing clear progression routes for students from beginners to advanced performers.
BEAT’s strategy for singing
To achieve access, quality and progression in singing through:
- Our festival offer – CPD, teaching, resources and enrichment events that are exciting opportunities to perform and to watch other schools perform;
- Our offer to schools – CPD, teaching, consultation and resources provided for school music leaders through the Music Network, and supported by engagement with national profile organisations eg. Creative Futures, Friday Afternoons, Voices Foundation, London Youth Choirs;
- Our Academy offer – opportunities to sing in choirs at each level and to progress into our flagship singing group One Voice Choir, and including singing as part of a general musicianship training across our Music Academies.
The BEAT festival offer currently comprises the BEAT Infant Music Festivals (annually each autumn, Y1/2) and the Barnet Schools Music Festivals (annually each summer, Y4/5/6). This offer should:
- place singing resources in schools that
- contain good quality, age-appropriate repertoire, selected for its potential to engage students and enable them to progress as young singers and musicians;
- are supported by high quality materials including tips for teaching, recordings, whiteboard resources, and ideas for creative work and other extension activities that link to the requirements of the music curriculum;
- enable schools over time to build up a library of singing resources covering a diversity of musical genres and representing music from different times, places and cultures;
- include CPD in singing leadership;
- provide opportunities for schools to perform for, and see the performances of, other schools;
- expose teachers and children to high quality singing leadership at the festivals themselves;
- provide light-touch CPD for school staff, through supportive school visits to help with teaching the materials, and through exposure to ideas and good practice when they see other schools rehearse and perform;
- enable BEAT to identify schools that can benefit from further support in their singing provision.
- Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IMF ran online in 2020, reaching 24 schools. We plan a return to live Infant Music Festivals in Autumn 2021, but we expect buy-in to be hampered by hesitance caused by the continued effects of the pandemic. We aim to increase the number of schools participating by 50% (36 schools).
- Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the BSMF was cancelled in 2020 and is taking place online in 2021. The online BSMF offer for summer 2021 should nevertheless enable us to meet the above criteria for participating schools. 58 schools had booked to take part in the 2020 festivals. We aim for 40% of this uptake for the online offer in 2021 (24 schools).
- We plan a return to live festivals in summer 2022, and aim to increase the number of schools taking part to better than the projected numbers for 2020 (more than 58 schools).
Relevant ACE guidance
This strategy should be regularly reviewed to ensure that we are delivering on the relevant Core Role for Music Education Hubs, as specified by Arts Council England.
Develop a singing strategy to ensure that every pupil is singing regularly and that choirs and other vocal ensembles are available in the area.
Music Education Hubs should:
- provide CPD for school staff so that they can:
- be aware and take account of vocal health, vocal range and changing voices
- use creative approaches to teach pupils to sing in classroom lessons
- lead singing in school choirs and assemblies
- advise schools on high quality singing resources
- provide opportunities for children and young people to sing in a wide range of styles
- subsidise access to out-of-school singing activities so that they are affordable or free to those on low incomes
- ensure that children and young people who are part of choirs and other vocal groups have regular opportunities to perform to others
- collect data on the number / type of singing activities and number of children and young people taking part