Partnerships - the joy of providing music education for all pupils across all sectors

Posted on: 01 May 2018

Every Saturday during term time, Latymer Upper School is alive with the sound of music – not, as is normal on weekdays, emanating from Latymerians. The music is created by one of its long-standing community partners, the Tri-borough Music Hub (TBMH).

The Tri-borough Music Hub (TBMH) is a fantastic organisation which provides music education for maintained schools and groups within three West London boroughs; Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea. They’re responsible for some excellent music making – the Tri-borough Youth Orchestra, Chamber Choir, Folk Ensemble, Young Singers and Keyboard Centre are all projects that are open to young people in the area, as well as access to individual instrumental and singing lessons.

Latymer Upper has been working with TBMH for 15 years, hosting their Saturday Music Centre. Around 150 children take part in the Latymer Saturday Music Centre, arriving at the School armed with a variety of classical instruments including brass, guitar, percussion, strings, wind and vocals. Latymerians work alongside our guest musicians in one of the most popular of our sixth form volunteering roles, to help create an exciting repertoire, engendering real and personal relationships between pupils at Latymer and those young musicians attending TBMH.

The man behind TBMH, Stuart Whatmore, is a passionate and energetic advocate of the benefits of music education for both the academic and emotional wellbeing of children. His mission is to offer inclusive, high-quality, inspiring, progressive and sustainable music education for all. By sharing our state-of-the-art facilities at Latymer Upper School with TBMH, including the recital hall and IT suite, we’re helping Stuart widen access and participation in music making, and share his goal of helping to improve standards in music for local children, including those who may not have picked up an instrument before.

And it’s working. Participation across the tri-borough is up, the standard of teaching is improving and, as a result, the pupils who attend are making greater progress. In June 2015, the TBMH performed ‘Seven Seeds’ by John Barber. Pupils from 63 schools (primary, secondary and special) took part, winning a Royal Philharmonic Music Award.

Stuart and I meet half-termly, often with Tony Henwood (Director of Music at Latymer Upper), to see how we might continue to improve standards, always working towards keeping our collaboration. Ideas for the future include CPD for visiting music teachers, performance and composing projects and workshops for students.

Stuart’s goal of helping children develop a life-long love of music and realise their musical potential is one that we share wholeheartedly. In Year 4, each Latymer Prep pupil is offered one term of free weekly instrumental lessons, on top of the two curricular timetabled music lessons they take each week. This opportunity encourages all children, including those new to music making, to take up one of the ‘endangered’ instruments – trombone, tenoroon (a small bassoon), French horn, oboe and trumpet. No one misses out on the opportunity to ‘have a go’, with the majority continuing lessons after the term’s free sessions are up. Prep children on a bursary are given music lessons free of charge, with many developing hitherto untapped talent. Some of our most gifted musicians are at the School on a free place.

Our partnership with TBMH is hugely important to our school, and to me personally – both in my role as one of the School’s music teachers and as Deputy Head responsible for the co-curriculum, school events and community partnerships. We pride ourselves on the music education our pupils are offered at Latymer and, in keeping with our ethos of inclusivity, aim to create yet more partnerships in which we can share our facilities and expertise with local schools and organisations.

We were thrilled to have been recognized by our peers for having developed such positive community partnerships this year, having received three awards at the ‘Tes Independent Schools Awards’ in February. Whilst being named the Independent School of the Year was a great honour, winning the title of Independent-State Partnership School of the Year for our partnerships with over 50 maintained primary and secondary schools, was the award that really hit home to all at Latymer. Here’s to the next 15 years of music making with TBMH!

About Richard Niblett

Richard Niblett is deputy head, co-curriculum and community partnerships at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith.