The Villa Bianca School of Music

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The Malta Trust Foundation is currently in the process of establishing its latest project, The Villa Bianca School of Music for Students with Different Abilities. 

The Villa Bianca School of Music will focus on the musical development of children and young people with diverse disabilities (including children with Down Syndrome, children on the Autism Spectrum, children who are blind and severally visually impaired) together with children with learning difficulties.

It will concurrently support the development of musical skills, including social and communication skills for these vulnerable children and young people.  Helping them to develop such skills will create an opportunity for these vulnerable communities to acquire a better quality of life.

The Villa Bianca School of Music will acknowledge that all children even the most vulnerable, have unique abilities and ways of learning.  The school will adopt a child-centred approach to music teaching and learning, ensuring high quality provision and early intervention. 

The proposed music school takes a child-centred approach to Special Needs music teaching and learning. Students with special needs have unique abilities and ways of learning and so the Special Needs music curriculum is designed to reflect this and be capable of recognising the progress that these pupils make.

 This music curriculum is underpinned by Sounds of Intent, a framework that has been designed specifically to recognise the musical development of children with Special Needs and Early Years (Ockelford, 2008). It is the only musical development framework for children with Special Abilities and Early Years that is based on years of research informed by practitioners in Special Abilities music settings and takes on board the key musical developmental milestones that alternative frameworks may not do. It celebrates the small increments of progress that pupils with Special Abilities make (Ockelford, Welch, Cheng, Vogiatzoglou, Jewell-Gore, & Himonides, 2011), whilst offering teaching staff a lot of flexibility in terms of both content and delivery of lessons. This means that staff can support each pupil’s individual needs and musical development.  Sounds of Intent has also been identified by Ofsted as an example of good practice for music education in special schools (Ofsted, 2012). 

Aims and objectives

 The aims of this project are threefold:

1. To ensure high quality music education provision for all students with diverse abilities in a safe and inclusive environment.

2. To provide early intervention to young children with diverse abilities.

3. To support the development of children’s non-musical skills (e.g. social and communication skills, movement) through music.

 The school is intended to provide a framework for music education delivery and evaluation whilst drawing on the expertise of local and visiting music professionals, to enhance the learning opportunities of students with diverse abilities. This project aims to ensure that high quality music education delivery is maintained through regular review of pupil progress and music policy and to systematically gather data on pupils’ musical development through the regular assessment of the students. The methodology also aims to support pupils in making links in their learning across subjects through the use of common curriculum.

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