Professor’s £105,000 grant to develop teaching resources for blind children

A £105,000 grant has been secured by Adam Ockelford, Professor of Music at Roehampton’s School of Education, to fund the development and creation new musical learning resources for visually impaired children with learning difficulties, as part of the Sounds of Intent project.

Posted: 24 November 2015

image for news story Professor’s £105,000 grant to develop teaching resources for blind children
Professor Adam Ockelford

This grant has been awarded to The Amber Trust by the MariaMarina Foundation which aims to improve the well-being of disadvantaged people and people with special needs. Professor Ockelford launched The Amber Trust 20 years ago with Sir Paul Ennals, one-time chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau. The trust helps blind and partially sighted children across the UK who have a love of or talent for music.

Professor Ockelford said: “As scientists look more and more into the brain, they are realising how important music is for the whole of thinking, the whole of emotional development. For a lot of blind children, particularly with learning difficulties, the world is a bewildering place. This grant will directly help these children, it will give them a voice and an opportunity to develop a passion and skill.”

In 1996 the Amber Trust worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to produce a hugely popular set of musical resources for visually impaired children with additional special needs called All Join In! Over the last 20 years musical styles and educational thinking have developed significantly so there is now a need to produce a new, up-to-date up to date version. The £105,000 will fund the project, which will run for three years, split into stages:

  • Stage 1: A research and development officer will visit schools with a reputation for high quality music provision to gather ideas for new resources, which will then be created at the Applied Music Research Centre at Roehampton, led by Professor Ockelford.
  • Stage 2: This will see musician Derek Paravicini, who is blind and learning disabled, recording the new music.
  • Stage 3: Publication of the new materials, both in print and on CD, and distribution to parents and practitioners working with children.

The success of the All Join In! project in 1996 suggests that these new materials will be widely and systematically used, and they will have a spill over impact for the 25,000 children in special needs schools who are not visually impaired.

The University of Roehampton runs a part time postgraduate certificate course in Sounds of Intent, which is taught by Professor Ockelford, which introduces students to the Sounds of Intent music-development framework and explains how to use the resources and assessment tool. The course is the only one of its kind in the world, and combines theory and practice within a vocational context. 

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