Pop 4 Schools Review

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What is Pop4Schools?

Every now and then something new comes along and you think to yourself “that’s brilliant – why has no one ever thought of that before. I wish I had thought of that!”. Well, when I saw Pop4Schools on its launch-day at BETT earlier this year, that’s exactly what I thought (as I am sure everyone else who saw it thought too!)

Pop4Schools is an online resource for teachers. You pay for a licence which gives five teachers from your school access to teaching resources that you can either use directly from the website through your interactive whiteboard or download. The resources include subject based “Blooms Taxonomy” lesson plans, video clips of professionals working within the industry, PowerPoint presentations and quizzes, example artwork, recording software and everything else you need to run the course with the minimum of effort – in fact, all  you have to do is access the resources and everything is laid out for you.

Pop4schools is NOT a music program – it’s a cross curricular teaching programme. You don’t need to be able to play an instrument to use these resources to teach and you do not need a computer in the classroom. Undeniably, this will be more exciting for music teachers as they will be able to add a lot of additional lesson to it and use it to teach composition and recording.

What do children learn from Pop4Schools?

Pop4Schools uses the music industry as a vehicle for teaching many subjects within the national curriculum. Subjects that are covered by dedicated lesson plans are: ICT, Literacy, Maths, History, Science, Art, PSHCE and Geography.

One of the main features of Pop4Schools is the “Mini Enterprise Project”. This walks you through using role-play within the classroom to re-enact jobs within the music industry that professionals carry out every day. It takes your class on a journey that will transform a lyric to a finished CD on the shelves of a record store. This covers a vast array of subjects and skills – from writing lyrics (English), to composing music (music), creating an album cover and posters (photography/art), considering marketing, and calculating finances such as costs and profits (maths). It doesn’t stop here though – there are 17 roles in total.

Is Pop4Schools difficult to use?

Because Pop4Schools has been written by teachers and music industry professionals together, it has two angles. On the one hand, it has everything laid out for you – so if you are struggling for time or have no musical skills then you can simply follow the lesson plans – they even tell you what part of the curriculum you have taught. On the other hand, there is scope for adapting your own ideas with the additional professional input and resources. So whilst you could just teach the lesson plans and tick the boxes, you could also run with it;- create and produce the entire song and video in house, have your own concerts and sell your own CD’s, posters and t-shirts (and even a world tour, I suppose!).

Pop4schools gives you all the support you need. So, if you need a musician to come in and play your song for you then there is a comprehensive list of musicians that have been recommended by teachers. If you need someone to record your song then there are recommended organisations that come to your school free of charge (they take a cut of sales) and arrangements can also be made to have your completed track uploaded to several websites for purchase.

What are the benefits of Pop4Schools?

  • It really is Popular! – The programme uses a very popular theme, the pop music industry, to teach multiple subjects within the curriculum. Because of the popularity of pop music (and, dare I say, the success of the X-factor), children are immediately more interested in learning. Because it’s cross-curricular you can capitalise on the popularity of music to teach less popular subjects.
  • Everything is done for you – There is no research or training that you need to do in order to start teaching.
  • It is flexible and adaptable – There is scope for creating your own activities and there is plenty of intellectual content to help and support you in personalising your lessons to the needs of your class or to make the most of your skills.
  • It is great fun – Learning and teaching using the Pop4Schools resources adds a bit of fun to the classroom and makes learning reflect real life.
  • You can make money! Joining Pop4schools can be considered as an investment with a financial return. At the same time you are teaching your children in a new, fun and exciting way, you are also creating a tangible end product, or products, that many parents and friends will want to buy. Many schools have used the programme to raise money for charities or for their own PTA. You can generate sales by simply selling the songs online, or by creating CD’s and merchandise such as mugs, key-rings, t-shirts and posters as well. In fact, the more merchandise you create, the more meaningful skills you are teaching the children and the more money you can make!

Summary of Pop4Schools

Pop4Schools is irresistibly good value both in affordability but also in how many students can benefit from one small investment. In fact, for the more frugal teacher or head, the scope for making money out of Pop4Schools makes it a bit of a “no-brainer”.

The depth of content and support can only be likened to Sing-Up (who Pop4Schools link to on the online portal page). In fact, it is quite similar to Sing-Up in many respects, but it adds a practical and tangible edge. It is much easier to learn when you can see a practical use for the skills you are being taught and use those skills to create something you can show to your parents and friends. It is something the children will keep forever. A lesson they will never forget!

What do other schools say about Pop4Schools?

“We’ve not found much else like this site. I actually used the resources as a springboard for lots of my own ideas rather than using the lesson plans provided. I teach a year 6 class and we covered humanities, art and design, ICT, literacy, PSHCE, internet safety, plagiarism and copyright, and produced a video. All the resources I needed were on the site – you couldn’t stop me once I got going!

“The lesson plans were helpful as a steer, but the resources allowed me absolute freedom to teach creatively, and that’s what I love about Pop4Schools. Add to that the fact that it has been created by teachers and they understand what it’s like to teach 30 children, and all the needs associated with that.”

Liz Papier, Year 6 Teacher from Akiva school in North London

“The Mini Business Enterprise initiative is another key aspect of teaching within the programme, allowing our school to partner PSHCE development and community cohesion programmes with key curriculum skills. There is a full creative programme included in Pop4Schools. My pupils wrote, recorded and sold a song to parents and friends and we raised money for a South African orphanage last year, and will fund raise for the Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign this year.

“For me, the biggest advantages of the Pop4Schools site are that:

It is tailored to work with the primary curriculum and can be taught either subject by subject or cross curricular.

It fulfils PSHCE requirements and can deliver some of Ofsted’s requirements.

It teaches pupils about the creative process behind the music they love.

It has been developed by teachers and music industry specialists so it feels authentic.

It has the support of the recorded music business, arts and educational establishments.”

Rachel Jacob, Head teacher of Hillcross Primary School in South London

Find out more:

We have posted the following documents if you would like to find out more. You can also go to www.pop4schools.com to watch videos and download sample lesson plans.

To buy a license, please use one of the following links:

DV247 : http://www.dv247.com/computer-music-software/pop4schools-5-user-licence–84131

Music Village : http://www.mveducation.com/invt/84131/

About Robin Heyworth

Robin Heyworth has written 59 post in this blog.

Starting out as an IT student, Robin inadvertently found his way into the music scene in the mid 90’s when a friend asked for help getting a copy of Cubase for Window’s 3.1 to work. The blooming dance scene of the mid 90’s sparked a passion in DJing and production and he held many residencies at clubs around the country in the late 90’s. Since becoming too old to stay up all night partying, Robin has devoted his skills to teaching others DJing and Music Production and most recently to giving sound advice on how to get started in the world of making music and running our educational sales department. Email him on robinheyworth@digitalvillage.co.uk if you have anything you can contribute to our educational news section.

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About Author

Starting out as an IT student, Robin inadvertently found his way into the music scene in the mid 90’s when a friend asked for help getting a copy of Cubase for Window’s 3.1 to work. The blooming dance scene of the mid 90’s sparked a passion in DJing and production and he held many residencies at clubs around the country in the late 90’s. Since becoming too old to stay up all night partying, Robin has devoted his skills to teaching others DJing and Music Production and most recently to giving sound advice on how to get started in the world of making music and running our educational sales department. Email him on robinheyworth@digitalvillage.co.uk if you have anything you can contribute to our educational news section.