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The Hub Support Programme: helping our members to come back stronger

4th October 2021

Gary Griffiths, author of Music Unlocked

First introduced as a single course to develop leadership skills, Music Mark’s training offer has expanded and evolved significantly over the years into the multifaceted programme of support, peer learning and community that we know it as today. This week, Gary Griffiths, independent Music Education consultant and author of Music Unlocked, delves into the Hub Support Programme and the many ways in which it has been able to support our members over the past 18 months.  

I have been privileged to work with you all since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, when Bridget asked me to “come alongside” our members as you adapted to the unknown – and ever unpredictable – changes that Covid-19 imposed.  Early in 2021, at the time when I was already speaking to our English Music Education Hub members, Hannah Fouracre (Director of Education at Arts Council England) told us that the Department for Education had set aside £½M to support Hubs’ recovery.  Over the next few weeks, we worked with Hannah and her team to create the programme we now have:

Over eighty of you had conversations with Sound Connections last term, which identified priority areas for support and the type of support you would welcome.  Although the funding is from the English DfE and for Music Education Hubs’ recovery, we and the Arts Council are happy for our wider UK members and Music Education Organisation Members to benefit from the training, resources and peer support.  Broader participation only adds to the richness of conversation and learning.

There’s lots going on and we are increasingly reaching the senior and middle levels of our membership and are pleased to be able to extend our support beyond the Head of Service level.  One of the most exciting aspects of my work is the peer support and learning that we facilitate.  Of course, it happens in our regular regional meetings but we also offer a number of peer groups:

  • new(ish) Heads of Service;
  • senior leaders (a NE group and a national group);
  • business or finance people (likewise);
  • Hub chairs.

Every time our groups meet, I’m struck by the depth of wisdom and experience in the network and by the generosity and willingness to support each other.  I knew this existed from my London days but I feel that it has moved to another level in the last 18 months.

We and the Arts Council were keen that you should, as part of the programme, be able to develop projects that responded to your own priorities and we set aside £90K of the £½M for the Partnership Innovation Fund.  In the first round we allocated £43k to eight projects, which you can find out more about here.  We are eager to hear about their impact and the learning from them.

Five EDI projects are taking very different approaches, including establishing a network of Tutor Diversity Ambassadors, mentoring young people, developing a collaborative, regional strategy, sharing a commissioning model to increase access to music from a different culture and promoting equity in music-making in school.

A couple arise from learning from the pandemic (an England-wide city hubs network, and a Youth Voice-led approach to a strategy for future digital engagement).  As a former London hub lead, I am very interested in the creation of the Mersey Brass Tutor Network across three hubs.  This seeks to create a networked team of six tutors to develop brass initiatives, to work together strategically and to share resources and expertise for the benefit of students.  That’s an idea that could usefully be replicated by other areas and for other instrument groups.

Second round proposals for this fund need to be with us by 22nd October (see here).  We are excited to see what ideas you come forward with.

You can find details of the other Hub Support Programme activities on the dedicated webpage and training is listed as events.  Once again, please don’t feel you’re excluded because you’re not an English Music Education Hub.  If the Music Mark team or I can support you, please drop me a line at or the team at  Thank you for all you do for the children and young people you serve; I look forward to helping you continue to work with them.

Just a last word to say a big thank you and best wishes to Rosie, who I have greatly enjoyed working with on this programme.  Rosie goes on maternity leave this month and I am looking forward to continuing this work with Rachel.

Find out more about the Hub Support Programme.