In 2021 we were pleased to partner with Caol Primary School in Fort William, to understand how staff could use music to support children whose mental health and wellbeing had been impacted by the Covid-19 lockdowns.

The local region has no special educational support within primary education settings, and participating children were experiencing social and emotional difficulties, often combined with an autism/ADHD diagnosis.

The project was delivered by music therapist and Advisory Panel member Clare Reynolds. Over the course of six weeks, participating staff impressed Clare with their receptiveness to new ideas and techniques.

Aims for the different ages and groups differed, from focusing on skills like concentration, boundaries and attention with younger children, to working on developing self-confidence and social skills, and focusing on nurture and security as the older children prepared to move towards secondary school.

It seemed to take no time at all for the pupils to find a connection with the music space and they clearly looked forward to it… Some even came skipping into the room. I saw definite improvements in terms of confidence, concentration, and engagement… The music space allowed them to feel safe and free to express themselves.

Clare Reynolds

As the weeks progressed, Clare and the staff quickly noticed changes in the children. They saw excitement leading up to the sessions from children who were often shy and withdrawn, and increased concentration and participation from children with complex needs.

Watching the progression of the children from week one was amazing to see.

Participating staff member

As one child put it when asked if they felt the music groups were useful:

Yes, it makes me feel really relaxed and at night I get to sleep easier on a Wednesday because of all the instruments.

Over the course of the project, with Clare’s support and guidance, the staff gradually took over delivery of music sessions until they were able to lead them independently. The project saw eight members of staff were trained and supported in their use of music, creating opportunities for more than 250 children to access music as part of their education.