Musical Routes is the music education Hub for Wirral with Cheshire West and Chester and is led by the two local authority music services working in partnership. As part of their core roles, they have been providing whole class music lessons in their special schools. The programs up to now have included steel pans, African drums and percussion.
Following the change in the National Curriculum, Neil Watson, the Quality Assurance Manager for Wirral Schools’ Music Service (one of the hub partners), decided to challenge two of his special schools by changing the instrument provision to ukuleles. Hayfield School in Upton, Wirral and Stanley school in Pensby Wirral have been parties to the new project.
The results so far have astounded both Neil and the teachers in the schools. There has been a transformation in the attitude and willingness to participate in music lessons.
Neil is quick to point out that the success of the projects so far, have relied on the full participation and enthusiasm of the teaching staff from both schools and the enthusiasm of the pupils.
The project has used a combination of Ukulele Magic and Charanga’s Ukulele course to underpin pupils’ learning. The results have shown greater concentration, vastly improved experiential experience for the less able students ably supported by their staff, better fine motor skills practice and a real willingness to learn and improve.
At Hayfield, the staff has been keenly competing to obtain use of the ukuleles for their classes and the progress has been really good especially in the class that has managed to practice every day. The deputy head teacher has noted the astonishing change in the school and the transformation of the enthusiasm and energy that the ukuleles have inspired in the staff and pupils.
At Stanley, the concentration and participation has improved tremendously. It is wonderful to see pupils, who have a daily struggle with life, transfixed with concentration and thoroughly enjoying their learning and experience.