Pleckgate High School

Pleckgate High School is a multi cultural community of pupils, staff, parents and carers. The school comprises of 1200 pupils situated on the northern outskirts of Blackburn with Darwen and serves the communities on the northern edge of the town.

The school became a Specialist Maths and Computing College in 2005 and was judged by Ofsted in 2007 as a good school, with many outstanding areas.

Sean Ashmore is the Head of Music at Pleckgate High School in Blackburn and has been using Gigajam for just over a year and a half. Sean explains why there was a need for Gigajam, how it is being used and his plans for the future.


"I have always thought that the peripatetic provision, especially within secondary schools, was inadequate. Whilst appreciating the challenges facing music services, it means that in essence only a few of our pupils are able to access the instrumental provision with the overwhelming majority unable to do so.

Gigajam is a way of extending instrumental provision to all pupils. Every single pupil in our school gets 40 weeks of intensive instrumental provision within the curriculum. Those who show real promise can then access our peripatetic provision. Those we have identified as having promise have turned out to the pupils that we would not have normally expected to have done so, but are much more reflective of our intake.

Implementation and Participants

Curriculum, Lunch time, Out of hours and Community Access

We run Gigajam for a term a year in KS3 - so by the end of Year 9, all pupils have had a full year's tuition. In a typical session pupils will have an hour a week for a term of Gigajam. Pupils are set targets to achieve and are encouraged to move to band settings as quickly as possible.

As an hour a week is simply not enough to learn a musical instrument, pupils can also access Gigajam 5 days a week before school, at a special lunchtime session and at an evening session which is also available for the community.

Music ICT is available each morning from 7.30 - 8.30am which has Gigajam within that. We also provide extra sessions one lunchtime a week and one evening session after school. Community accesses Gigajam through our school and both local schools and local colleges have attended these sessions.

Impacts and Outcomes

We have changed to BTEC music, partly as a tie in to Gigajam, and numbers have increased. Participation at school concerts has also increased and is now more reflective of our multi cultural intake. Pupils are fully engaged whilst doing Gigajam activities - it really is personalised learning and there has only been one behaviour problem - and that was with a very difficult pupil. Even that pupil agreed that Gigajam was better than the usual things he would have been doing.

Robin Campbell, Head teacher of Pleckgate High School said, "Having been recognised as an accredited school for Gigajam I am delighted at the tremendous range of opportunities it has provided for our school and our pupils. It has had a really positive impact on delivering a personalised approach to learning for pupils within Pleckgate and we are now at the forefront of using Music ICT as an aid to deliver the new National Curriculum at KS3.

Every single child in Pleckgate in Year 7 to 9 receives the equivalent of a full year's tuition on either drums, electric guitar, bass guitar or keyboard and we are the only school in this area of the country to do so. The obvious impact has been on increased motivation for music and all associated activities and it has had a tremendous impact on the ethos of achievement across the school and has certainly raised the profile of music in this multicultural establishment. Long may it continue."

Future Developments

We really want to link the NOF credits and want to extend the exam material and run a foundation course at KS4 with Gigajam at the heart.