Kingsdown School, Academy Trust Special School, in Southend


Music plays a very important role at Kingsdown School. It helps enable pupils to access the curriculum, to develop basic physical, social and communication skills, and provides a platform to express their emotions through musical performance.

Kingsdown School has high expectations in music and pupils regularly perform in assemblies, school and public concerts, competitions and even at London theatre venues.

Kingsdown School is the Special Schools Music Hub for Music Man Project UK – an award-winning full-time music education service specifically for people with learning disabilities. With the Music Man Project, Kingsdown pupils have taken part in two West End productions alongside hundreds of other musicians on stage, recorded a charity single, won local music competitions and have been one of the only special schools to be represented in large-scale mainstream primary school concerts. Kingsdown pupils are at the forefront of the Music Man Project’s ambitions to raise awareness and educate society about what musicians with special educational needs can achieve and to campaign for their rights to perform at the largest and most prestigious concert venues.

The Music Man Project provides Kingsdown with two specialist tutors who work with our pupils every Wednesday in school, including Music Man Project founder, David Stanley. They devise original bespoke musical resources to support musical and cross-curricular learning, provide consultancy for senior leaders, deliver teacher-training for non-specialist practitioners and offer a range of extra-curricular opportunities for the children. These include School Choir, School Orchestra, Training Orchestra, music for assemblies and support for school concerts and events. The Music Man Project provides additional teaching and opportunities in music specifically for children receiving the Pupil Premium.

Kingsdown School is also the home of the Music Man Project’s Saturday morning music school which caters for both Kingsdown pupils and children from all the other local special schools in the area. This specialist music club for adults and children with a learning disability was founded in 2001 and is supported by the local Southend Music Hub (“Music on-Sea”). As its Special Schools Music Hub, Kingsdown School has first access to all of the Music Man Project instruments, resources and performance opportunities. Kingsdown School took part in Music is Magic at the London Palladium in 2015 and 2017. The most recent performance was a special tribute to Lord Brian Rix and celebrated Royal Mencap's 70th anniversary.

Music Man logo

For more information visit www.themusicmanproject or follow ‘The Music Man Project UK’ on social media.

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‘Papa Piccolo’ is an active music and movement program that can be delivered by non-specialist teachers. It was devised by a Kingsdown member of staff under guidance from The Music Man Project UK, who continues to oversee its growth and development. The program was initially aimed at Early Years classes but now supports learning for other year groups too.

A puppet called ‘Papa Piccolo’ helps the teacher lead the 45-minute sessions, which promote music, movement and fun while teaching the pupils to follow instructions, listen to a wide variety of multi-cultural music, explore real instruments, play along with music, and learn to express themselves.

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Since September 2015, small groups of pupils have been receiving Music Therapy with qualified Music Therapist, Isobel Needham.

Music therapists use music as a way to connect and build relationships with adults and children to encourage and develop communication (both verbal and non- verbal), self-esteem and confidence, build on developmental skills such as sharing, taking turns, listening, moving and developing interaction and awareness skills with others.

The children have been attending weekly sessions in groups of four and have been engaging very positively. Using Music means that the children can respond without the need to use words and this therefore encourages the children to respond in their own, unique way!

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