Gig Academy: Developing 21st century skills through event-based learning

Educational Technology

Collaborators Marden High School, St Thomas More School, George Stephenson High School


Gig Academy explored how working with the local community, such as local bands, could help make the music curriculum more relevant.


Gig Academy used Event-Based Learning to give students the opportunity to improve their 21st Century Skills: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Problem Solving.


Over 60 students across the North East have successfully organised and run their own gigs taking responsibility for everything from marketing and promotions to rigging lights and mixing live sound.

Gig Academy explored the use of technology within Performing Arts teaching in the secondary classroom. Existing online project management tools were used to coordinate event-based learning with the aim of improving students’ 21st Century skills. The Gig Academy team also looked at how building bespoke tangible technologies could allow for stage lighting to be taught in the classroom.

This technology - micro:bit Proxy Lamps - are small micro:bit lights which replicate various large stage lights and can be controlled using professional lighting software allowing students to learn and practice their skills before transferring to a full lighting rig.

Over 60 students from three high schools across the North East have worked with the Gig Academy team either organising gigs for local professional bands or working on a school musical. Marden High students took part as an extracurricular activity, while at St Thomas More and George Stephenson High School this has formed part of their BTEC Music courses.

Find out more on the Gig Academy website.


  • Students from St Thomas More and George Stephenson planned gigs for local bands (TCHOTCHKE and Ghost Signals respectively), as part of their Level 2 BTEC Music course. They worked within their curriculum lessons to plan and deliver the gig improving their 21st Century skills while still meeting the BTEC criteria.
  • At Marden High School, students planned the backstage aspects of the school show and ran all the technical elements on the night. Students gained 21st Century skills as well as technical production skills, with several of them pointing out they wanted to pursue this as a career later in life.