South Manchester City Learning Centre


The Parrswood City Learning Centre (CLC) in South Manchester was looking at innovative ways of providing more opportunities for more pupils in an engaging way. One of the roles of a CLC is to provide new ideas that use ICT to develop learning skills, subject specialist skills and complement existing teaching methods. Paul Ford, the technical manager at the CLC first came across Gigajam on the City Learning Centre internet forum, where he saw a posting from another CLC. As keen musicians, Paul and the CLC manager, John Denney wanted to find out more, with a view to adding a music project to their existing thriving music programme.

After trying out Gigajam for themselves, Paul and John decided to set up the CLC as a Gigajam Mentor Centre, which is set up to support schools in South Manchester to introduce whole class instrumental tuition using ICT. The CLC then became a focus of music education for surrounding schools, adult education in the local community, and Manchester Music Services.


  • Embedding of ICT in Subject Specialisms (Music)
  • Dissemination of best practice from City Learning Centre
  • Provision of Wider Opportunities in broad and curriculum terms


To set up the Gigajam Mentor Centre, the CLC adapted the existing space to accommodate the equipment. An initial investment was made into purchasing the musical instruments, so that learners would have access to all four Gigajam band instruments – the drums, guitar, bass and keyboard.

The CLC firstly opened the CLC for Gigajam to its host school Parrswood High School and offered weekly sessions for students. This had a lot of interest from the start and became known as the Xband project running sessions in the evenings and at lunchtimes.

John and Paul were keen to find a sustainable model of delivery that would enable the project to be extended beyond Xband. The Manchester Music Services was approached to form a partnership that used Music Services staff to run the sessions and support the students at the CLC. Dave Thom was appointed the Lead Music Services teacher and was supported by two further colleagues. The use of the music services staff, in conjunction with the suite of workstations using Gigajam lesson content and software, meant that more and larger groups of students could learn to play instruments.

Phase 1 — Establish Mentor Centre


Once the Centre was running sessions successfully, then the project was extended beyond Parrswood to a number of affiliated schools. The participating schools were Chorlton High School, Parrswood High School, Newall Green High School, St Paul’s Primary School, Whalley Range High School, North Manchester School for Girls, and St Cuthbert’s Primary School.

The schools were provided with an initial three sessions each at the Mentor Centre. Manchester LEA then purchased further equipment and licences to enable the participating schools to continue their studies back at their own schools.

Paul Ford assisted in the technical set up in each school to help the schools get started, Dave Thom provided further mentoring support on a rotational basis checking on use of the equipment and progress through the lessons.

Phase 2 — Establish participating Protégé Schools

Roll out of the project

The project was planned to run from September 2004 through to July 2005 under the supervision of Sue Berry, Acting Deputy Head of Manchester Music Services. The participating schools joined the project at different times through the year. Gigajam was keen to ensure that the project was running satisfactorily for all parties and joined in a review in February 2005. An informal review identified the need for a progress report of implementation and this was produced in May 2005. The schools were doing well and the full reports form Appendix One.

It was identified that each school had unique issues which were largely split into two categories: security of equipment and appropriate workspace. Appropriate and individual solutions were recommended and applied by Dave Thom, in association with the lead practitioner at each school

Phase 3 — Demonstrate outcomes through performance-Gigafest

Gigafest 2005

The project ran well throughout the year and a concert was organised to demonstrate the students progress and the outcome of their hard work. The concert was held at the Zion Arts Centre and was attended by Parents, Students, Gigajam Director Brian Greene, Manchester Music Services and CLC staff. All the schools had a band and was extremely well received.

Impacts and Outcomes

  • The project was well received and successful. There is a great deal of willingness to continue and look to extend.
  • The technical issues regarding Analysis of performances and saving of files for future reference and collaboration need to be addressed and made more robust. There may be a need for training.
  • The technical difficulties encountered did not interfere with the project as the students and lead practitioners were highly motivated.
  • The use of the materials was successful across both the top end of Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.
  • The methodology and pedagogy was well followed and applied:- Learn the interface/Read lessons/View multimedia/Practise exercise/Record, Listen, Analyse. Apply skills to performing with others. Teachers and Learners followed the Learning model upon which Gigajam was developed — Knowledge / Understanding / Application / Analyse / Synthesis / Evaluate.
  • The use of an end performance concert (Gigafest) provided additional focus and stimulus for the pupils as well as proof of their work and results.
  • The project is to be reviewed as it continues with a view to repeating and extending the reach of the model across Manchester’s other CLC’s and broadening its scope with the introduction of Gigajam Orchestra to encourage existing classically and formally trained musicians to come together.
  • Gigajam is now being used by South Manchester CLC as part of a BTEC Course administered by Manchester Academy. Introductory Certificate and Diploma in Performing Arts.

Future Developments

Gigajam and Manchester Music Services are holding regular music events to enable their students to perform the skills they are developing.