Raploch’s Big Noise children’s orchestra has been praised for high attendance and the exceptional achievement of many participants, following an inspection by Education Scotland.

A report published today (Tuesday) says Big Noise boosts the confidence, ambition and life chances of the children taking part.

Inspectors saw innovative practice they wish to explore further and share around the country.

Raploch’s Big Noise orchestra is overseen by the charity Sistema Scotland in partnership with Stirling Council. Launched in 2008 it is inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema movement to achieve wider social aims through music.

Sistema Scotland Chief Executive Nicola Killean said: “We very much welcome these findings which illustrate the distinctive nature of the work. Our most obvious triumphs may be musical but we are here to equip the children with resilience and confidence to succeed across all areas of their lives. It is not as easy to show that side of things as it is to put on a stunning musical performance.”

David Leng, Director of Children, Young People and Education at Stirling Council said: “We are pleased the inspectors recognised the innovative nature of the work and proud that good practice pioneered here in Stirling will now be shared around Scotland. There are some recommendations for action which I think are very useful, but overall this is a hugely positive report.”

The team from Education Scotland spent a week in Raploch, observing Big Noise at work and talking to children, parents and partners. A bespoke team of experts was assembled for the task as Big Noise straddles both school and community delivery.

Sistema Scotland CEO Nicola Killean added: “We are grateful to funders of Big Noise Raploch including Stirling Council, players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and a number of trusts, foundations and individuals. This Education Scotland report illustrates that this investment in children’s futures goes beyond providing a good musical experience to equip the children with transferable life skills. Sistema Scotland believes that will save society a great deal of money in the long term.

Today’s Education Scotland report highlights the following key strengths.

  • High levels of participation and commitment from children and young people who are proud to be part of Big Noise.
  • Significant numbers of children and young people who achieve exceptionally well in music.
  • Children, young people and families are increasingly confident and ambitious as a result of their involvement with Big Noise.
  • The professionalism and passion of a staff team committed to transforming lives through music.
  • Effective leadership which has supported the continued growth of the organisation.

As a result of the review the following key recommendations were made to support further improvement:

  • Work with school staff to continue to develop approaches to learning and teaching to give children and young people more responsibility for aspects of their learning.
  • Improve approaches to planning, assessing and reporting children and young people’s achievements in music and in relation to other skills for life and work and ensure young people continue to build on these at all stages of their learning.
  • Engage more fully with other community partners to share information, improve networking and strengthen the collective efforts to building a stronger more resilient community.

The report states:

“Through their engagement in Big Noise, children and young people are increasingly confident. They feel safe, cared for, included and respected.”

“Children and young people attending Big Noise have high levels of school attendance, high standards of personal appearance and increasing self-pride. They feel that Big Noise staff encourage them to have high aspirations and to live healthy lives.”

“Big Noise has demonstrated a long term commitment to the community of Raploch which has led to increased participation from the community over time. The majority of children and young people living in the community now participate in the after-school programme and as a result are engaged in positive activities outside of school and during the holiday periods. All staff and volunteers working in their various roles across the organisation demonstrate high levels of professionalism and commitment to the overall aim of transforming lives through music.”

“A significant number of children and young people achieve exceptionally well through the Big Noise programme in Raploch.”

“They demonstrate high levels of commitment to the programme through their consistently high levels of attendance, concentration and teamwork. They are developing well a range of important skills for life and work such as self-discipline, time-management and organisation…”

“……young people are developing their competence in leading others, acting as conductors or supporting each other to succeed.

“Children and young people are increasing their confidence and self-esteem as they learn and perform together in small ensembles and when they come together in one of the Big Noise orchestras. They are developing a strong sense of belonging and understand that others rely on them to do their best.”



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