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First fully inclusive music qualifications announced

Trinity College London has developed a new range of qualifications in partnership with the charity Sounds of Intent

The examinations board Trinity College London has launched Awards and Certificates in Musical Development: industry-first, regulated qualifications for musical learners with learning difficulties across the whole spectrum of abilities and needs.

Designed to formally accredit the Sounds of Intent Framework of Musical Development, these new qualifications represent the first fully-inclusive, regulated qualifications for music learners.

Established by the University of Roehampton, the UCL Institute of Education and the Royal National Institute of Blind People 2002 and based on over 20 years’ research, the charity Sounds of Intent aims to investigate and promote the musical development of children, young people and adults with learning difficulties.

Sounds of Intent resources are included as a recommended resource in the ‘refreshed’ national plan for music education in England, published in June 2022 UK government’s Department for Education and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

The Sounds of Intent framework, free to use, is designed to recognise how everyone engages with music, from children in the early years to older people with dementia, from those with profound learning difficulties who are still learning to process sound, to others on the autism spectrum who are regarded as advanced musicians.

Trinity has now created a set of fully regulated qualifications which recognise learners’ musical achievements at Sounds of Intent Levels 2–6.

Qualifications range from Entry Level 1 through to Level 3, with Level 3 carrying UCAS points. These fully accessible, regulated music qualifications are open to all learners, enabling them to have even the smallest steps in musical progression formally recognised.

The Awards and Certificates have been designed for any music setting: for learners working individually, in the classroom or any other music-making context.

Each learner’s musical achievements can be recognised through any type of music-making activity, and learners are assessed through a process of ongoing observation within regular opportunities to engage in musical activities.

Adam Ockelford, Professor of Music at the University of Roehampton, and founder of Sounds of Intent, said, ‘I’m thrilled about the new initiative by Trinity College London, which will mean that, for the first time, all children and young people, no matter what their abilities or needs, will be able to have their musical achievements formally recognised.’

Francesca Christmas, Director of Music at Trinity College London, said, ‘Musical learning is a fundamental right for all in education. The opportunity for children and young people’s music-making to be celebrated through formal recognition, which can be key to unlocking life-changing funding and support, should also be universally available.

‘Trinity is delighted to be working alongside schools, teachers, and other organisations to make this possible.’


Available from September 2022, the qualifications are now open to any UK school or other organisation working with learners with special educational needs, additional support needs or disabilities.

Organisations can register as a validated course and assessment provider to deliver the assessment of young people’s musical engagement against Trinity’s Awards and Certificates in Musical Development.

For further information please visit trinitycollege.com/sounds-of-intent.