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Stronger together: announcing our workforce plans for 2020-2021

Stronger together: announcing our workforce plans for 2020-2021

If this year has taught us anything, it is the power of connection. With each other, with children and young people, with those whose voices are marginalised or oppressed and who need a safe space to share and heal, and with ourselves: our own mental health, personal and professional needs.

When we took our training courses and networking events online at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown we believed it would be temporary until ‘normal’ activity could resume. Since April 2020, we have:

  • Welcomed more than 500 participants to 10 online training courses, networking and sharing events
  • Supported 15 individuals with bursaries of £250, to support and enhance a specific area of their personal or professional development
  • Provided one-to-one mentoring to 60 individuals, employing a team of 10 mentors
  • Worked with four young people aged 18-25 from the Wired4Music network who advised and facilitated on all online events.

97% of those attending our events stated that they would apply what they learnt in their own practice. In terms of professional development: 93% stated that their skills increased; 97% that their confidence increased; and 100% that their knowledge and understanding of the topic improved.

So what next?

It has been so rewarding to see people come together, share, learn, communicate, and network through our online courses and events, that we are going to continue working in this way for the foreseeable future.

We have an ongoing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and in our workforce development programme this means ensuring that presenters, workshop leaders and facilitators are diverse and representative. We still have a way to go, but during our 2020-2021 programme we are aiming for at least 50% of the delivery team to be from backgrounds that are typically under-represented and given less of a platform as speakers, trainers and facilitators.

For 2020-2021 you can expect:

  • A range of online training courses and events covering topics that our network have indicated they want and need in the current climate. Courses are listed here with more coming soon!
  • Inclusive Practice in Action conference in February 2021: a two-day virtual event focussing on diversifying the music education workforce. Details here>
  • Training and networking events via the London Early Years Music Network for early years music practitioners including decolonising early years music; understanding autism in the early years; and working creatively with families. Details here>
  • A series of Music and Social Justice network events that will focus on breaking cycles of injustice in music education, co-curated by Chrys Chijiutomi and the Sound Connections team (more soon!)
  • A series of dynamic events during 2021 in partnership with Bollobrook Youth Centre focussing on young people, chaos and music (more soon!)

Finally, we are delighted to be working with Brenda Rattray who will be advising us on the creation and facilitation of a listening and healing space to offer solidarity and support to those working in music education following the unfolding events of 2020 relating to the Black Lives Matter movement. More details on this to be shared in due course.

We were fortunate enough to be able to fully subsidise our April – July events thanks to Arts Council England emergency funding and the Radcliffe Trust. Going forward, we are introducing an admin fee for all training courses, and ticket prices for specific events such as Youth Voice Week and Inclusive Practice in Action. This is to cover speaker and administrative costs with delivering these events. However, from our network survey we know that finances remain a barrier for many, particularly freelance practitioners, so we will waive fees or provide bursaries for those individuals who need this – no questions asked.

We can’t be certain of anything over the next few months. But we can be sure that keeping in touch, checking in, listening, learning and developing ourselves and each other will help to ultimately ensure that children and young people are able to access quality music opportunities and experiences, whatever they may be.

Stay safe.

Abi D’Amore

Workforce Development Programme Manager

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