Success Story: Supporting Secondary  Schools Across Lancashire 

MusicFirst Lighthouse series brings together inspiring stories, aimed at capturing how institutions have  implemented online learning into their curriculum  using innovative technology and creative thinking. We have welcomed the below case study which has highlighted the work we do in Secondary schools.

An Innovative Initiative to Support  Schools Across Lancashire – Lancashire Music Education Hub

Lancashire Music Education Hub (LMEH) brings  together a diverse range of organisations to  develop musical opportunities for young people.  For many young people these experiences will be  a vital and enriching part of their lives, helping  them to progress their talents, enhance learning  whilst supporting their health and wellbeing.  LMEH supports the National Plan for Music  Education whilst striving to make it easy for,  young people, teachers, musicians, schools, and  the wider community to collaborate and find  great ways to make music. Music has the power  to inspire and change lives and LMEH will seek  to make musical learning available to all children  and young people across the county. 

The lead partner of LMEH is Lancashire Music Service (LMS)  which is supported by core Hub partners. The purpose of  LMEH is to create pathways that engage children and  young people in high quality music making. The mission  statement is to enable and encourage access for all  Lancashire’s children to a diverse range of musical  experiences which will enrich their lives and those of the  communities in which they live, through innovative,  sustained, and structured programmes that enable young  people to realise their full potential. As part of working  towards those ambitions Tim Rogers (Head of Service)  and Ben Rapp (Regional Manager), part of the LMS  senior management team, conceived the idea of the  Secondary School Music Upgrade initiative in 2018.

Proof of concept:

All schools are part of music education hubs and 94% of Lancashire schools actively engage with  LMEH. To try to support schools directly, and increase Hub engagement from secondary schools,  the Music Upgrade initiative was launched with offers from LMEH partners. There were varied offers  including practical music making sessions, tuition, training, resources and support. Great care was  taken to ensure the sign-up process was quick and easy and now it just requires the filling out of a  simple form. 


Having run this initiative for a year Ben Rapp was looking for ways to further develop sign-up from  schools to these offers and saw the success that Matt Allen (MusicFirst) was having from schools  using the Focus on Sound Pro software, particularly from posts in the KS3 Music Teachers Facebook  Group. Having met with Richard Payne (MusicFirst) we looked at adding Focus on Sound Pro to  our existing package of offers in the Secondary School Music Upgrades. Having this extra option  immediately had a positive effect on schools engaging with this initiative. From 2020 we added  Noteflight Learn, Soundtrap for Education, AuraliaFirst and MusitionFirst. This has supported an  increased engagement to 80% of Lancashire Secondary Schools although the target is 100%.  

We also acted directly on feedback we received from our LMEH youth voice project called Amplify  who surveyed over 400 young people around the county and ran youth voice events with nearly  120 participants. This feedback clearly tells us that young people want more access to online  resources and Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) which this partnership has aligned with.

School Reports 

Focus on Sound Pro has such a broad appeal; teachers regularly report back to us the  endless and creative ways in which they use it. Hear from the teachers themselves: 

How do I use Focus on Sound PRO? 

Claire Brook, Head of Music Moor Park High School and Sixth Form:

  • Homework tool
  • Classroom teaching aid  
  • On the spot tests  
  • Microsoft Teams lesson sharing
  • Musical handbook 

Favourite feature:   Shared Content – new ideas and lessons  from other Focus on Sound Pro users,  a new network at the click of a button. 

“Focus on Sound Pro is an  extremely useful tool and  resource to support the delivery  of my curriculum, and to assist  with closing the gaps. If you  haven’t already got it, I highly  recommend you invest!”

Emma Lamb, Lancaster Royal Grammar School:

  • Curriculum design 
  • GCSE exam practice 
  • Collaborative learning 
  • Practical composition  
  • Cover Lessons

Favourite Feature: Composition lessons covering all ability ranges from Year 7 to 6th form. 

“Focus on Sound has been an  integral part of our curriculum  delivery and opens our students’  ears to a wide variety of music,  fully supporting the cultural  development and broadening  their horizons”

“The feedback from schools  using any of the MusicFirst  packages has been wholly positive. The support and  communications from  Richard and Matt have been second to none  and schools have really benefitted from our  partnership working. This was even more of  benefit during the pandemic when pupils could access high quality resources from  home, with teachers able to set work for  pupils to access on the cloud easily, via Focus  on Sound Pro. I thoroughly recommend  MusicFirst to any Music Education Hubs  around the country.” 

Ben Rapp, Regional Manager – Lancashire Music Service