Winners 2023

Outstanding Musical Initiative

Winner: Opera North, for Opera North Big Sing: The Water Diviner’s Tale

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The judges were impressed by the scale and inclusivity of this project, also commenting on the importance of the topic. They noted that the range of CPD and resources provided for teachers will ensure that the project has a legacy. This is a large-scale, ambitious and immersive project with clear evidence of qualitative and statistical outcomes for the children involved.

Surrey Music Hub, for Music Connects

The judges said that this initiative responds to a specific need in an innovative and joyful way. They were impressed by the potential scalability of the project to other music hubs, which would support displaced young people all over the UK.   

Outstanding Drama Initiative

Winner: London Bubble Theatre, for ‘Playing Safe’

The judges supported the innovative nature of this initiative, which has been designed in direct response to a social need. They felt that the project highlights the potential of theatre to make social change and directly support lesser-reached communities. They were particularly impressed by its holistic approach, engaging the children’s parents in the process to explore the role of adults in the stories created.

Outstanding Music Education Resource

Winner: Out of the Ark Music, for Sparkyard

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The judges agreed that this was a significant, comprehensive resource for primary teachers. They were impressed by the design of the resource, describing it as user-friendly and visually appealing. The judges highlighted the affordability of the resource for schools with varying budgets and applauded its potential for effective use by both specialist music teachers and non-musicians.

Outstanding Drama Education Resource

Winner: We Teach Drama, for ‘Think Like a Lighting Designer’

The judges thought this was a well-produced, solid resource to share with students. They said it supports teachers to teach the fundamentals of the topic using a wide range of resources, adding that it is a responsive piece of work generated as a result of a genuine need.

Excellence in SEND (Music & Drama)

Winner: West Midlands Inclusive Choir

The judges felt that this initiative demonstrates genuine inclusion, offering a well-supported music making experience for every young person and their family. They were impressed by the song writing aspect of the project, the performance opportunities, and the way in which everyone is welcome to be involved in their own unique way.

Excellence in Musical Theatre (Music & Drama)

Winner: Garsington Opera, for ‘Dalia’

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The judges were unanimous in their support of this project, which engaged with difficult subject matter and involved people with lived experience. Its diverse content helped promote music from a range of cultures and project saw an active collaboration with young voices from the local area. The judges felt it was a perfect example of diversity and inclusion being stitched into every step of a creative process.

Excellence in Primary/Early years (Music & Drama)

Winner: Nate Holder, Helen MacGregor, and Collins Music, for ‘Listen and Celebrate’

The judges described this as a brilliant, forward-thinking resource. They were impressed by the authenticity of its approach to children’s music-making, and its multi-faceted approach to the meaning of ‘diversity’. They felt it included excellent, well-structured, and scalable tasks for teachers to use and adapt with their classes.

Live Music Now, for the Lullaby Project

The judges loved this project, highlighting its clear, positive outcomes and exciting potential for scalability. They noted the urgent need for support in this area and commended the project’s partnerships with healthcare providers. They hope that one day this project will be taking place all over the UK in a range of settings.

The Rocksteady Award for Progressive and Inclusive Music Education

Winner: Music for Good, for ‘Music Prescribed for Wellbeing in a GP surgery’ project

The judges were excited by this initiative, highlighting its important work to bring music into a space where it doesn’t usually belong. They felt that this project has already done great things and has huge potential to expand across the country and have a significant impact on many children and young people.

Outstanding School Music Department

Winner: Nelson Primary School, Newham

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The judges were impressed by the number of musical opportunities available at this school, commenting on the different ways that children can get involved. They highlighted the progression routes available and said that this department is an outstanding example of committed individuals and supportive senior leadership working together to achieve both musical and wider outcomes.

The Bourne Academy, Bournemouth

The judges commended the sheer number of young people involved in this music department and applauded its achievements despite the socio-economic challenges of the area. They felt that the dedication and success of the individuals driving this department deserve to be recognised and look forward to seeing the department go from strength to strength.

Outstanding School Drama Department

Winner: St Mary’s College, Hull

The judges were unanimous in their support of this drama department, particularly the work it has done on developing its Drama curriculum and the connections it has developed with the wider industry. They felt that this diverse department with high rates of success for its students deserves to be celebrated.

NEW - Instrumental or Vocal Teacher of the Year

Winner: Daniel Johnston

The judges were impressed by Daniel’s city-wide impact across many programmes for many children. They highlighted this individual’s continued commitment and adaptability during Covid and agreed that they are a forward-thinking, outstanding instrumental teacher whose dedication deserves to be recognised.

Francesca Hanley Inspiration Award

Winner: Rebecca Beavis

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The judges agreed that this person has a huge impact on young people’s lives, some of whom may be described as ‘harder-to-reach’, as is fully deserving of the heartfelt testimonials submitted. They felt that this individual’s all-encompassing commitment and dedication to children and their musical journeys more than qualifies them for this award.

Gillian Mott
made an extraordinary contribution to music throughout her life. Even when she was diagnosed with cancer, she continued to focus on her students and gave her all despite of the circumstances. She was truly inspirational and her life and commitment to music are to be celebrated.

Drama Inspiration Award

Winner: Nina Lemon

The judges were impressed by Nina’s consistent committed work in providing arts training for young actors whose skills could make a difference in their communities. They commended how this person has transformed their personal experience into a brilliant project, empowering the young people involved.

Tommy Robinson

The judges applauded Tommy's clear ability to engage children previously disinterested in performing arts and from a broad range of backgrounds.

Music Teacher Magazine Editor's Award

Winner: Stephen O’Regan, for the Ukraine Music Hub

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I have chosen to present my award to this individual and their project because they have demonstrated outstanding and selfless dedication, with little personal recognition, to a hugely important cause. Their commitment has had a direct impact on children and young people going through a time of crisis, and I felt that this person’s work deserved to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Hariett Richards,
former Editor of Music Teacher Magazine

Drama & Theatre Magazine Editor's Award

Winner: Vamos Theatre

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I am thrilled to present the Drama & Theatre Magazine Editor’s Award to a theatre company which has continued to pave the way in widening access to theatre, particularly for those with learning difficulties, sensory issues, and audio impairments. 2022 was a significant year for this organisation, with many pioneering efforts introduced – all of which supported teachers and students in accessing a branch of theatre often out of reach financially. 

Freya Parr,
Editor of Drama & Theatre magazine

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Norton York

The judges were impressed by Norton’s lifelong commitment to young people’s musical journeys. They wanted to celebrate the outstanding global impact of this individual’s work across a broad range of musical styles and genres by presenting him with this award.

Lifetime Achievement Memorial Prize
The Lifetime Achievement Memorial Prize is awarded for the first time in 2023 as the judges wanted to celebrate this person’s life and their wide-reaching contribution to the music education community. In their many roles, they championed excellence and helped countless children fulfil their potential, all the while widening access to music. They are greatly missed, and the judges hope that this award goes some way to celebrating their significant impact. 

And the winner is John Thomson.