Creating a Music Development Plan


The long-awaited National Plan for Music Education in England was released this weekend, giving music educators up and down the country much to discuss! The operational delivery method for this 8-year plan is a series of overlapping music education plans, starting at national level and cascading down through local, trust, and school levels. The creation of these plans is likely to keep everyone busy for a fair few months, but how do you actually go about creating one?

While I’m not usually a fan of top-down, centralised policies being imposed on schools, in this case the cascade structure flowing down from the National Plan itself is a sensible one. Any project manager will tell you that you have to work backwards from your end goals in order to have any chance of strategic success, so if we are to have a National Plan that works then our local, trust and school-level plans must keep its aims in mind.


While it is tempting to get straight into the detail of what you want to offer the children and young people in your care, it is imperative to spend a significant amount of time considering your values and vision for music in your setting. While this might sound like wishy-washy nonsense to some, it is crucial to understand what music in your school, trust, or hub is ‘for.’ Only then can you create a coherent plan that everyone can understand and get behind. Perhaps music in your setting is ‘for’ developing confidence and creativity? Maybe it is ‘for’ increasing life chances and career opportunity. Every vision will be different, and that is both right and important. You will want to involve a range of stakeholders, including children and young people, in the development of your vision, to ensure that it is reflective of the whole community which you serve.


Once you have established your vision, and how it links to the overall aims of the National Plan for Music Education (England), then you will want to embed this into the accountability measures within your setting, such as the wider school development plan. This is important because it ensures that your plan will get done, and not be forgotten about in a rush to fulfil other priorities. Music is a subject which probably has more research studies into transferrable skills and academic and personal benefits than any other, and while these benefits are often hotly contested, this does at least mean that there will always be a way to link music to wider school, trust, and hub priorities!


With your vision and accountability measures fully in place, you can then start to draw up the detail of your plan. In this context, the NPME has provided a list for schools of what should be included in their development plans, some elements of which will be more achievable than others, depending on the individual school context. However, schools should not get bogged down in this as a box-ticking exercise, and if any of the points on the list do not dovetail well with the overall vision for music, they can be excluded from the plan. After all, this entire process is voluntary and non-statutory! No-one is going to turn up and downgrade your school because you haven’t turned your car park into a suite of music practice rooms…


The content of your plan will be driven by practical considerations, and sometimes you might feel very far away from achieving your vision, or feel that you have been too ambitious in what you have set out to achieve. This is both fine and totally normal! The whole point of a development plan is that you are in a constant state of development. If that sounds anxiety-inducing, think of it as having permission to take baby steps towards perfection rather than being perfect all the time! Your plan will develop and grow over time, activities will change, elements of it will become more or less practical as time goes on, but as long as you hold onto your vision you will eventually see it come to fruition.

For further advice and support:
Click here to find out about our Creating a Music Development Plan webinars.
Click here to find out about our consultancy services for Schools.
Click here to find out about our consultancy services for Hubs.
Click here to purchase The Primary Music Leader’s Handbook, which covers the process of music development planning.