Introduction, Context and Aims


Academic staff and students from UoN will empower year 5 and 6 participants to design evaluation tools for measuring the impact of ‘Music for Well-being’ provision, delivered by Northampton Music and Performing Arts Trust.

We will observe workshops in 3 schools, involving up to 90 primary school students across the county. Post-workshop sessions will explore the impact of the provision with a focus group of 6 student researchers in each school. Qualitative data will be collected using a ‘mosaic’ approach; talking, reflecting and creating alongside children who will be active participants in both the data collection process and the data analysis process. Phase 2 of the project aims to provide the opportunity for young researchers to share their findings with a designer who they will direct to create a wellbeing tool which can support young people to identify, explore and communicate their emotional responses to a specific provision.


Context and Rationale

Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools

In 2020, the NHS reported that one in six (16.0%) children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017. Among children of primary school age (5 to 10-year olds), 14.4% had a probable mental disorder in 2020, an increase from 9.4% in 2017. This increase was evident in boys, with the rate rising from 11.5% in 2017 to 17.9% in 2020. (Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2020, p. 14)

The Education Policy Institute’s 2020 report into mental health and wellbeing of young people, made the following recommendation, which links directly with our aims and with step 2 of the NHS’ 5 step plan for Mental Wellbeing:

  • Ensure that all young people have access to options for engaging in physical activity, including non-competitive activities, in their local area.
  • Commission research, working with diverse young people, to identify scalable interventions to increase activity among children and adolescents. (Crenna-Jennings, 2021, p.15)

Mental health and wellbeing is a significant issue for schools at the moment and the new Ofsted Framework (2019) will consider ‘wellbeing’ when making judgements about schools. Therefore, the research project we are proposing has significant potential to support schools and local authorities to deliver their post-pandemic Recovery Curriculum and address the new school priority of ‘Wellbeing’


Arts Provision

Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust has been providing music and performing arts education opportunities for children and young people throughout Northamptonshire, for over 50 years. NMPAT became an independent charitable trust in 2012. It is the lead partner for Northamptonshire Music Education Hub and, separately, Rutland Music Education Hub. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, on an annual basis, NMPAT enabled: c.20,000 children and young people to engage and play a musical instrument; nearly every primary school in the county to host a First Access project, with every child in a year group having opportunities to play a musical instrument, or have tuition; it maintained over 30 auditioned county ensembles with over 1,000 members; Reach the Stars delivers bespoke activity with and for children and young people with additional needs; a Musical Inclusion programme reaches some of the most hard to reach communities; and the Trust maintained educational contact with nearly every state school in the county and many private establishments, tertiary colleges and early years centres.

The ‘Music Wellbeing’ programme consist of 5 workshops and uses the NHS’ ‘5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing’ guidance as a framework for the aims and outcomes of the project:


Designing Tools

As researchers at the University of Northampton, we aim to work with participants of NMPAT’s ‘Music Wellbeing’ programme, empowering year 5 and year 6 pupils to produce up to 3 evaluation tools for measuring the impact of the provision.

3 researchers from the Education team at the University of Northampton will observe and document workshops at 3 schools, involving up to 90 primary school students. They will run post-workshop sessions with focus groups of 6 student researchers each week to discuss and explore the impact of the workshop, and to devise, edit and critique evaluation tools alongside the 5 students.

Young people will be invited to be active researchers of their own wellbeing, working with University staff to design research evaluation tools to measure and make sense of their own wellbeing.

We aim to provide the opportunity for young researchers to design evaluation tools alongside designers, recruited by children, with the potential to be used locally, regionally and nationally, supporting children to identify and track their emotional well-being. 

Designers recruited for the project will use data collected in the 5 workshops to inform their planning for tools, and will consult with children during bespoke design workshops, listening to the children’s ideas and helping child researchers to turn their ideas into detailed designs for tools.


Changemaker Values

The project supports the Changemaker value of practising empathy, as two of the 5 NHS steps for wellbeing used to design workshops were ‘Connect with other people’ and ‘Give to Others’.

Young people and researchers will work collaboratively to co-create learning tools, demonstrating another of the Changemaker values.

This research supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, specifically to provide Quality Education (SDG3) developing reflective, research and metacognitive skills in Key Stage 2 students; and Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG4) as students reflected on mental health and wellbeing using NHS guidance.

The project will support the Changemaker value of practicing empathy, as two of the 5 NHS steps for wellbeing used to design workshops are ‘Connect with other people’ and ‘Give to Others’.


Aims and Objectives of Research





EMPOWER Key Stage 2 students (year 5 and 6) to become researchers of their own wellbeing, 

PLACE children at the centre of research; as leaders and experts in research about their own lives 

PROVIDE the opportunity for young researchers to design evaluation tools with the potential to be used locally, regionally and nationally, supporting children to identify and track their emotional well-being.

ENABLE time to reflect on wellbeing provision to deepen the impact and effectiveness of arts provision and build Primary School students’ metacognition and reflection skills.

DEVELOP research skills and qualities in year 5/6 Primary School students;

SUPPORT young people’s mental health and wellbeing, designing early intervention strategies to prevent young people’s mental health from deteriorating and thereby reduce the impact on mental health services locally.

OUTPUTS/DELIVERABLES Detailed designs for the creation of a reflection and evaluation tool for well-being to share with local schools.

18 young people will receive Changemaker certificates for contributions to research and change, raising the profile of Changemaker in 3 schools, widening participation.

A comprehensive Edublog documenting the project will be created and there will be a short film to accompany this.