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Pudsey Civic Hall transformed for Peter Pan accessible music experience

The week before May half term, Pudsey Civic Hall was transformed into Peter Pan’s Neverland.  Nearly 200 children and young people from special schools danced with their shadows to live jazzy music, toured Mermaid’s Cove and played in a musical battle against Captain Hook and his crew!

YAMSEN (Yorkshire Association for Music and Special Educational Needs) hosted ‘YAMSEN Flies to Neverland,’ its yearly set of full-day, immersive, multi-sensory events for pupils with PMLD (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties) and musical activity events for autistic pupils and pupils with moderate to severe learning disabilities.  The days are funded by LMEP (Leeds Music Education Partnership, the local music hub) and supported by the SEND team at ArtForms music service.  Pupils from special schools in Leeds and across West Yorkshire attended—so many that each event was repeated, for a total of four days of music and fun.  Because of Pudsey Civic Hall’s accessibility, over 40 pupils in wheelchairs were able to attend each multisensory day.

The multisensory and music days are a rare chance for special school staff and pupils to mingle with other special schools.  Each day features a range of activities designed to be repeated or adapted in the classroom, with big instruments for feeling vibrations and props that help pupils make sense of the activities at their own pace.  The days are meant to be both educational and promote a sense of playfulness and stimulation, which can be a challenge particularly among pupils with PMLD.  The multisensory days feature a live band who are experienced in working with children who have additional needs, and they move throughout the room so that the children can experience music up close.

Several of the groups are taught by the ArtForms SEND Music Team.  It was fantastic to see the children reaching out to engage with objects and instruments they enjoyed, bonding with their staff, smiling at people in costume and reacting to big sounds and movement.  Many of the children arrived in style, dressed in costume.  They enjoyed getting up from their seats to dance around, acting out their characters with staff.  The pupils at the Music Days made art, learnt a tune and some rhythms on steel pans and percussion, and helped the crocodile to get Captain Hook in the end.  A teacher from Greenmeadows spoke of one pupil who is particularly motivated by music.  She is normally very quiet and reserved in class but becomes a completely different, confident person with music.  It was fantastic to see her shine and engage in so much.

To find out more about YAMSEN and the Multisensory and Music Days, visit yamsen.org.uk or contact yamsen4@gmail.com.

To enquire about ArtForms SEND provision in schools please email Joanna.Winster@leeds.gov.uk

Joanna Winster – ArtForms Music SEND Team and Inclusion Coordinator, and YAMSEN Chair of Operations Group


Set for the YAMSEN flies to Neverland event. There is a blue cloth backdrop with a painted boat in the centre, a silhouette of Peter Pan on the left and a palm tree on the right.