First Access

The National Plan for Music Education 2011 states that children from all backgrounds and every part of England should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and to make music with others.

First Access is a programme aimed at Key Stage 2 pupils, giving all pupils an opportunity to play an instrument and experience making music in an ensemble.  First Access Programmes:

  • give all pupils access to a sustained course of practical music making
  • should be free at the point of access
  • are targeted at whole classes/year groups and use a variety of instruments
  • are complementary and additional to National Curriculum Music
  • do not apply to individual or small group tuition

Who is First Access for?

It is recommended that First Access is best provided for Key Stage 2 pupils.  Recorder programmes are best suited to Years 3 or 4, and brass to any age from the start of Key Stage 2, although Year 5 upwards will offer the best results.  It is not too late to start at Key Stage 3.


Two models for the delivery of First Access  Programmes are available, which can be tailored to suit the needs of individual schools.

The Music Foundation Programme teaches general musical skills and uses the recorder as the principal instrument.  Based on the pioneering work of Dr James Froseth, this programme is aimed at Year 3 or 4 pupils but can be adapted for younger pupils.  A one year course, it is a dynamic and well-paced programme of activities that develops the basic skills of music making with a range of exciting supporting resources and teaching strategies.  It links to units in the National Curriculum for Music and develops singing, rhythmic and melodic literacy, aural discrimination, aural memory and performance skills. The generic skills developed through the programme have applications across the curriculum.  The maximum group size is a standard class (approx. 30 pupils).

The Instrumental Foundation Programme teaches general musical skills using brass instruments as the principal instruments.  Building on the success of the Music Foundation Programme, the sister programme is delivered using brass instruments (usually cornet and baritone).  Programmes can be delivered to whole or half classes in various formats in agreement with schools.  The recommended maximum class size is 20; however class sizes up to 30 can be accommodated. The support of music co-ordinators, class teachers and/or teaching assistants is important in the success of the programme.  It is useful, although not essential, for  teachers and classroom assistants to learn alongside pupils, giving pupils the knowledge that we are always learning, and giving teachers the skills to deliver a practise session for pupils between lessons.

The aims of these programmes are to:

  • inspire and develop a performance orientated focus on music
  • develop the basic skills that underpin the learning of all forms of music
  • stimulate interest  and ability in music through a broad range of repertoire appropriate to KS2 pupils
  • raise the profile of and increase the participation in curricular and extra-curricular music
  • support the professional development of primary school teachers

Programmes are designed to be delivered over one year, but can be adapted to allow for class rotation within year groups if appropriate.  The standard lesson length per group is 30 minutes per week.  Lessons of less than 30 minutes are not available, but lessons of 45 minutes or one hour can be appropriate in certain situations.

Benefits of First Access to your school

First Access has raised the status of music in schools.

Teachers and Teaching Assistants (TAs) gain valuable professional development, acquiring skills that remain in school.

The benefits for pupils have been:

  • increased concentration, self-discipline and self-esteem
  • improvements in behaviour of the pupils engaged on the programmes
  • increased participation in music
  • pupils and parents make more informed choices about learning to play an instrument

Experience has shown that schools gain much greater benefit from the programmes if teachers/TAs assist with, participate in and consolidate the learning of First Access.

What you need to provide

  • Accommodation should be a normal teaching space or the hall, especially for First Access and curriculum lessons, where other people are not working e.g. teaching of small groups in the back of the room.  It is important to remember that music lessons can be noisy: pupils and staff must be prepared to expect and accept noise from a music lesson.  Access to a projector and  whiteboard, as well as a sound system, is requested for all First Access and curriculum lessons.
  • Name badges worn by children during all First Access and curriculum sessions aid communication with individual pupils and identify them for assessment, as well as the provision of class lists at the start of the year.
  • Information should be available about any pupils with health, emotional or behavioural problems, or any pupils with special educational needs, and particularly if something significant has happened recently in a pupil’s life that may affect their attitude or progress.
  • Information in advance (at the beginning of the term) about school closures, school trips etc. so that this can be taken into account when planning.  At least 4 calendar weeks’ notice must be given to avoid costs being incurred.
  • If possible the class teacher or a teaching assistant should remain in the classroom during the music sessions. This supports continuity of practice within the school regarding ethos, discipline procedures etc, and gives the class teacher the opportunity to observe how their pupils progress in Music.  

For information on prices please click on fees.

To book this service please click here.

Subsidy is available from Wiltshire Music Connect  for schools employing an Associate Provider.  See the ‘Fees’  section for further details.