Skip to main content

Sustainable Early Years Music (SEYM)

By 20th May 2022May 27th, 2022Blog

Community Engagement Approach
SoCo Music Project and the Early Years and Childcare Service
Reflective Report by Dr Ignacio Agrimbau (SoCo)

Ignacio with Delegates from the Southampton Early Years Conference.

Reflective Report in context

The SEYM project design includes a learning architecture, which consists of an Activity Framework, a Sustainability Model, and the Scaffolding Communities of Practice progression stages. It also includes two key guidance and operational documents: the Inclusive Learning Approach, and the Community Engagement Approach. The latter entails both principles and practices of how we develop partnerships through SEYM, a mapping of relevant project communities, and reports on how SoCo has engaged with those communities. The present document is a reflective account of our engagement with the Southampton Early Years and Childcare Service. SEYM is supported by Youth Music, Southampton’s Integrated Commissioning Unit and the Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group

How the Inclusive Learning Approach (ILA) is informing this report

One of the areas of ILA concerns reflection. It indicates that reflection happens at many stages during a project, and that longer-term reflection helps us identify key processes and stages. This reflective account uses this paradigm to identify the key project narrative stages that underpinned our growing collaboration with the Early Years and Childcare Service.

First Stage: Pre-SEYM (2017-19)

The first contact with the EY and Childcare Service took place during two strands of facilitation happening at Springwell School, one through a collaboration with CAMHS, and another based on a collaboration with the school itself, which back then was called the ‘Teacher Support’ project. At this time, our key collaborator at Springwell was Clare Knight, who was an assistant head teacher, and who had previously worked as an Early Years Advisory Teacher for the EY and Childcare Service.

What we were aiming at:
At that time we had a very clear idea of what our initial work in the school settings would look like, but needed more information regarding the wider EY sector, the level of need, sources of information. Most importantly, we needed to start making connections with key individuals working in the sector.

What we did:
We had an initial meeting at the EY and Childcare main offices, which also hosts a nursery and two Springwell Reception classes. The meeting included to SENCos from a local authority-run nursery, Ignacio, and SoCo project manager Marie Negus. At this stage Clare Knight started to think about SEYM as a long term intervention, and in it a potential for culture change. Clare has remained a key collaborator since then.

SoCo commissioned Ignacio to collect statistical data about children with SEN across the sector, level of need, and music provision by local services. This information was used for our Youth Music Fund A and Fund B applications, but also as preparation for the first meeting with a member of the Early Years Advisory Teachers (EYATs). Through that meeting, Ignacio could access a key audit document that outlined the very high proportion of children with SEN in Southampton nurseries, and how that population related to other social indicators available in public council databases. This preliminary research also involved brief consultations with the local Portage Services, and an educational psychologist.

How relationship unfolded:
There was a growing awareness across practitioners, SENCos, and members of advisory teams, of what SoCo was, and how Early Years music was becoming one of their priorities. We had developed a small but reliable list of local service contacts with could work with to plan future project, or access information.

Second Stage: SEYM I (2019-20)

This stage of the our partnership happened following our successful Youth Music Fund A bid to complete SEYM I. While most of our work during this period was focused on Springwell school and Rosewood school, the strategic aim of the SEYM I was also to start developing a longer and wider partnership with the EY sector, which would lead to a an expansion of the project.

What we were aiming at:
Our key priority at this stage was to start disseminating SEYM, and to develop a more varied list of contacts that would open for us the door to collaborate directly with the EY and Childcare Service.

What we did:
As part of the strategic outcomes of SEYM I (to expand the project to the wider EY sector), Ignacio was invited to contribute to a practical workshop in the local Early Years Conference, attended by over 250 delegates. Ignacio introduced an approach to interactive music-making using accessible instruments and vocalisations. His participation was very well reviewed and a number of nurseries contacted SoCo for music support. In this even Ignacio met the full EYATs team, and discussed plans to expand the project.

The EYATs accepted Ignacio’s knowledge-exchange offer, where he would attend their Twilight training meetings for SENCos, and he would facilitate a free music training session for practitioners in return.
Ignacio used these sessions to learn about the formatting of training documents aimed at nursery practitioners.

As SoCo started preparing its Youth Music Fund-B bid, Ignacio was invited to speak at two Inclusion Network Meetings, where he introduced SEYM’s activity framework, and shared examples of music facilitation from SEYM I.

How relationship unfolded:
Following the high levels of interest expressed by nursery practitioner, and Ignacio’s contribution to the Twilight sessions, both the EYATs and the Development Team expressed an interest in taking part in a new project. At this time Ignacio also secured a knowledge-exchange grant from the Royal College of Music to buy instruments for the potential participating nurseries. Ignacio and Marie Negus meet with the Development Team from the EY and Childcare Service, to discuss SoCo’s Youth Music application, and the role different practitioners, administrators and members of advisory teams would have in the project. The Development Team invited Ignacio to run a SEYM workshop, plus a series of inclusive music facilitation workshops at the forthcoming Early Years and Childcare Conference in 2020 (which was postponed for 2022). This was the beginning of what we can now call the official partnership between SoCo and the local EY and Childcare Service.

Third Stage: SEYM II, towards SEYM III (2020 – present)

During this stage Ignacio worked in collaboration with different nurseries (the number of which was reduced due to Covid restrictions), administrators, and members of the EYATs and Development Team.
Discussions entailed project reviews, events, logistical discussions, and strategic planning.

What we did:
The EYATs, in collaboration of administrative staff from the EY and Childcare Service distributed expressions of interests across all nurseries. Over a series of meetings between Ignacio, Marie, the EYATs and the Development Team, it was decided the criteria upon which participant nurseries would be selected. It was agreed that due to Covid restrictions we should focus on a smaller number of nurseries.
We were also advised to postpone our more strategic work with Childminders.

Ignacio completed a series of online training sessions for the EYATs, added to his training for the Twilight session, as well as setting-based training included in SEYM II.

The head of the EY and Childcare Service, Darrin Hunter interviewed Ignacio for a video aimed at promoting EY work in Southampton. A segment of the interview was included in the cut of the final video.

Multiple settings started to reference SEYM in their online diaries and Facebook accounts.

The EYATs and the EY Partnership Facebook groups started to include SEYM activity as part of Southampton’s EY provision.

Initial discussions with the EYATs and the Development Team addressed future work with Childminders.

Ignacio and Louis take part in an information day and workshop organised by the Parent Carer Forum. Ignacio discusses with Clare Knight, and drafts several project structures, of what a future project involving parent support would look like.

Ignacio participated at the 2022 Awe and Wonder Conference, providing two presentations about SEYM, plus an inclusive music-making workshop for all 250 delegates. He was assisted by former SEYM trainees and current apprentices.

How relationship unfolded:
SoCo and the EY and Childcare Service see each other as partners. Ignacio’s participation in the 2022 conference, plus the positive feedback obtained from SEYM II participant nurseries, have consolidated SoCo as a respected and established EY music provider in Southampton. Senior leadership are aware, and supportive of, current planning for SEYM III.

Thanks to funding by Youth Music, Southampton’s Integrated Commissioning Unit and the Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, SEYM has consolidated SoCo’s presence as an established provider of music engagement and practitioner development, and there is strong interest in the EY and Childcare Service for the partnership to grow and expand. This is the right time, not only to expand SEYM, but also to set up discussions involving match funding and investment as part of the project’s sustainability strategy.

I found that when we were doing the music I understood what he was saying more and it made sense as we are all frazzled after the children have left and it’s like that that saying the calm before the storm. If we feel like that, the children for sure will feel like that also.

Early Years Practitioner

Leave a Reply