A word from our Chief Executive, Sharon Bell 

Welcome to Services For Education’s Annual Review for 2023.

It has been a truly exciting year with some fantastic moments across the business, including some wonderful music events which you can read about below and the launch of some new services and partnerships by our School Support team.

This year we have been lucky to create some really strong partnerships with companies like Best Practice Network and we are now able to provide SCITT, the ECF Programme and National Professional Qualifications through them.

This partnership has strengthened our offering and we’ve seen some really strong outcomes because of that. Our School Support team also hosted their first ever on-line Reading Conference for Primary Teachers. This received fantastic feedback from all attendees and welcomed renowned guest speakers such as Mat Tobin and Pie Corbett.

In our music department, we celebrated the Youth Proms again in style and this year celebrated the King’s Coronation with an outdoor extravaganza at Cannon Hill Park.

Our music team also launched Count Me In! This is a fantastic resource for special schools and we were featured on local news to talk about the book. In November there was an incredible opportunity for two of our ensembles to perform at the Music For Youth Proms at the Royal Albert Hall – creating memories which will last a lifetime for performers and colleagues alike.

This year, we also hired a new Fundraising Manager which has kick-started some fantastic events including our first ever Festive Raffle and Big Give Challenge. Moving into 2024, we will be revealing more about some of our fantastic projects and fundraising plans – with many opportunities for you to get involved.

None of this would have been achievable without the enthusiasm and continuing commitment of our colleagues, trustees, stakeholders and, of course, our donors and funders including Arts Council England. Thank you to all of you who support Services For Education, and our work across the City of Birmingham and further afield – we are very grateful.

Sharon Bell

Chief Executive

Youth Proms 2023 – Talent, Passion & Determination

75 school-based ensembles featuring 2000 pupils, 22 central ensembles with 1000 children and a primary...

Striking the Right Note: Key Talking Points from Ofsted’s Music Subject Report

Helen Brookes provides a vital overview of the main points and thoughts of Ofsted’s music...

Conservatoire Students to Take to the Stage to Raise Funds for Future SFE Musicians

Join Conservatoire Students at the APD Gala Concert, Raising Money for Services For Education We...

Why is Music Important in Schools and What Can You Do to Prioritise it?

Discover why music education in schools is important under the National Plan for Music Education,...

Birmingham musicians take to the stage as part of the King’s Coronation celebrations

More than 500 young musicians from Birmingham are to take to the stage at the...

The Power of Music to Change Lives: A National Plan for Music Education

Deputy Head of Music Service at Services For Education, Adam Hickman, provides a summary of...

7 Top Tips For Subject Leadership in Music

Music is one of the few subjects that combines the creative, physical, intellectual and emotional...

NPQs: A Guide to Choosing the Right School Leadership Programme for You

Leadership-led education helps develop schools and sustain standards. Explore what NPQs are available to help...

How Do We Measure Success in Safeguarding – Qualitative and Quantitative? 

Jo Perrin has written this blog to get you thinking about the types of data...

The Writing Learning Journey: Key Elements of an Effective Writing Curriculum

With writing being one of the most hard-hit areas post-pandemic, English Adviser, Emma Mudge, has...

Updates to Ofsted’s School Inspection Handbook

Safeguarding Adviser, Jo Perrin, Provides an Overview of the Key Changes to the School Inspections...

Supporting Children Experiencing Bereavement

SFE Safeguarding Adviser and Emotional Health Expert, Lucie Welch, shares some of the key ways...

Forced Marriage: Spotting The Signs

Safeguarding Adviser, Jo Perrin, discusses the changes in law regarding marriage in the UK, providing...

Israel-Palestine: Educating During a Crisis

SFE Religious Education Adviser Dr Simone Whitehouse-James Responds to the Current Crisis in Israel/Palestine, Sharing...

eCrime: How Teachers Can Combat Cyberbullying

With the rise of cyberbullying, we explore its definition and provide some practical advice on...

Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia – are we as “anti” as we would like to be?

In this blog, Jo Perrin delves into Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, alongside what we need...

Top level experts to speak at online primary reading conference

Inspiration, engagement and attainment in primary reading are three themes being explored by leading experts...

27,000 free instruments

Jamie Barry, Head Teacher of Yew Tree Primary School in Walsall

Mr Barry started his teaching career in Birmingham and has more than ten years of headship experience in academy and maintained schools in three different local authorities.

He is a former Branch Secretary of the National Association of Headteachers and has gained an NPQH (national professional qualification for headship) as well as currently studying for NPQEL (the national professional qualification for executive leadership).

Dr Peter Borg-Bartolo, Chair of the Lunar Society

After a wide-ranging career in medicine, including 34-years as a general practitioner in Birmingham, he is now Senior Clinical Mentor with NHS Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (ICB) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Dr Jory Debenham, Senior Policy Advisor for Defra – The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Dr Jory Debenham has worked in music education for more than 25 years as a private instrumental teacher, examiner and university lecturer, alongside roles in corporate communications, investor relations and government policy.

Find out more

Inspiration, engagement and attainment in primary reading were the three themes being explored by leading experts in an online conference organised by Services For Education – the specialist education charity.

Speakers for the whole-day event on Thursday, November 9, 2023, were Mat Tobin, Senior Lecturer in Primary English and Childrens’ Literature at Oxford Brookes University; Pie Corbett, former teacher, headteacher, lecturer, and English inspector; Kathy Roe, Deputy Lead Teaching and Learning Adviser in Primary English at Herts for Learning Education, and Sonia Thompson, Headteacher at St Matthews’s CofE Primary School and Director of St Matthew’s EEF Research School in Birmingham.

This was a fantastic event that received some wonderful feedback. We have included a couple of comments below:

“I went away from this course feeling truly inspired and fizzing to implement the strategies mentioned in my own school setting. The passion the speakers had for reading shone through. It was so wonderful to spend a day listening to these professionals share their knowledge, their experience and recommendations. This was the best professional development training I have received in my career”

Laura Russell – English Lead / SENCo

“A fantastic day full of inspiring, knowledgeable and practical advice from a range of speakers. Pockets of wisdom shared by all and could be applied to almost any setting/provision.” 

Christa Haddleton – English and Communication Leader, SEND Teacher

“Thank you, really cherished the experience and learnt so much, hope that I can drip feed what I have learnt in my own setting.”

Aleya Nehar – Classroom Teacher

Find out more about our english offer here

Physically disabled children in Birmingham now have a greater opportunity to enjoy music through the expansion of a partnership between Services For Education, which delivers music education to Birmingham schools, and a pioneering charity that is championing the playing of musical instruments by those with a deficiency or impairment in one hand or arm.

Millions of people across the world are excluded from playing music with others because their physical deficiency makes it challenging for traditional instruments to be played to any reasonable standard.

Services For Education has worked with OHMI – the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust – since 2015 as part of its Music Makers programme when it piloted a scheme that has since been rolled out to other parts of the UK.

Currently there are eight-funded OHMI school children in eight different Birmingham schools all receiving one-to-one 30-minute individual music lessons in woodwind, keyboard and trumpet/clarinet.

The aim of the expanded scheme is to transform the lives of Birmingham children by giving them the opportunity to learn an instrument and participate in music-making.

learn more

2023 saw in the Count Me In! Launch and conference, as well as exciting press features…

Working in partnership, and funded by Youth Music, the University of Roehampton and the education charity Services For Education in Birmingham have created a significant and extensive resource for class teachers, teaching assistants and other non-music-specialist staff to better support children with learning difficulties in special and mainstream schools and colleges, as well as musicians from music services, music hubs and other arts organisations who visit schools.

The resource – called Count Me In! – does not require the ability to read music and so can be used by teachers without specialist music teaching experience.

Learn more

Our Inclusive Choir was the focus of our Big Give #ChristmasChallenge, where donations were worth double the amount thanks to kind supporters who had already pledged their support. It was SFE’s first time taking part, and the campaign ran for a week at the start of December.

Meeting monthly at The MAC, our Inclusive Choir welcomes children and young people under the age of 25 with a range of disabilities to take part in singing and music-making activities in a safe and inclusive environment. Supported by experienced staff, it’s a fantastic group with members and their carers benefiting from sessions. Some members also take part in the online West Midlands Inclusive Choir sessions too.

As one of our charitable projects, sessions are only possible through our continued fundraising efforts such as grants from trusts and foundations. Participating in The Big Give was not only a great way for us to raise much needed funds towards the project and we were delighted to raise just over £2,000 towards, as well as raise awareness of the choir and its impact, including an interview on BBC Radio WM.

For more information about the choir, to sign up to sessions and/or donate, please click here.


Back in May, over 1,100 guests joined more than 500 young performers to enjoy four Ensemble outdoor concerts as part of our The King’s Coronation Bandstand Project, which took place at Midlands Art Centre.

The project was made possible thanks to funding from Music for Youth and The Arts Council England and saw a number of Ensembles perform. Birmingham Schools’ Junior String Orchestra, Birmingham Schools’ Training Brass Band, Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School and Birmingham Schools’ Wind Orchestra/Symphony Orchestra Combined Ensemble took to the stage, performing to smiling crowds.

It was great to be part of a nationally historic celebration and was a fantastic event showcasing our young musicians’ talent, professionalism, and commitment as well as pride from family members and SFE staff.

The great news is, after the success of this year’s event (and some remaining funding) we are excited to be returning to MAC in May 2024 for another Ensembles outdoor concert. We look forward to joining audience members and seeing what our Ensembles bring to the stage this time, so keep an eye on our social media in the Spring for more information.


Keep up to date with the latest news from SFE and developments in the world of education via our Newsletter.

Our free newsletter covers a plethora of need-to-know information, including updates and advice about the latest developments in education, leadership, management and music.

We’ll keep you up to date with the latest news and guidance.

Each newsletter features: 

  • Updates and advice about the latest developments in education, leadership and management and music.
  • Suggested free resources like blog posts, webinars, articles, e-guides and podcasts.
  • Information about special events that you might be interested in and upcoming courses you won’t want to miss.
Find out more and sign up here

Fundraising plays an important part in enabling us to offer the projects and activities we do and many of our charitable projects such as our Inclusive and Community Choirs, Tiger Tiger and Music Ensembles rely on successful grants and individual donations to make them possible.

With this in mind, we are pleased to say that fundraising is back on our agenda with a new Fundraising Manager in post, looking at ways to engage more consistently with our supporters, raising not just money, but our charitable profile – starting with our Big Give challenge and Festive Raffle which both took place in December.

Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing more about opportunities to get involved, including challenge events, supporter initiatives and more.

If you would like to know more, please contact fundraising@servicesforeducation.co.uk – we would love to hear from you.

Thank You


Page Last Modified:  05/01/2024 15:10