Setting up a Music Therapy service in a mainstream school


By Omer Plotniarz, Music Therapist, EMT.

Music Therapy at Coston School

Coston School is a mainstream Primary School which has an Additional Resource Provision (ARP) unit for children with moderate learning difficulties, severe developmental delay, emotional difficulties and Autistic spectrum disorder.

Previously there was no music therapy at Coston Primary School and I am grateful for the opportunity of setting up the service. The initial aim of the service was to provide care for the ARP unit’s students and to gradually expand into the mainstream area supporting students with their emotional and mental wellbeing.

Setting up a Music Therapy service

To introduce the service to the school I presented to the ARP’s staff a workshop about music therapy, explaining about the work, aims, potential referrals and showed some videos of different cases. As a result, the first referrals for music therapy were made by the ARP lead and me. Later, staff members started to refer more students to music therapy.

The music therapy provision offered by Ealing Music Therapy included individual, group and spontaneous sessions that included staff members that supported the setting when needed.

Challenges and resilience during the pandemic

This was a very tricky year introducing music therapy in a new setting, with two lockdowns and school closures. As a result, the school opening hours as well as the number of students varied which needed adjustments both from staff and me. I would like to mention the ARP staff and to thank them for all their work and support during this year. They showed great motivation and dedication to the students and their learning. I really enjoyed working with them and felt included from the very first moment.

Towards the end of Spring term, my line manager – the school’s ARP Lead – had to reduce her hours and attendance in school due to personal reasons. This has been challenging especially when I needed support, however the other staff members did their outmost to support me during these times.

A successful first year

Within the 2020-2021 academic year, 21 children from the ARP unit received regular music therapy sessions whether in an individual close/open-group settings.  The music therapy provision spread between the different age groups in the school and involved close work with the staff and other professionals who work in the school.

This was a very successful and productive year in terms of music therapy especially in regard to the group work I have done, running 3 different class groups.

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