Gig Academy was designed as part of a PhD research project exploring ways in which schools and communities can work together to create relevant and engaging curricula. It offers opportunities for students to gain real-world skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity and problem solving while also meeting current curriculum goals in the classroom.

Curriculum Goals

The project ensures that students make progress towards curriculum goals.

Skills Development

The project offers multiple and varied opportunities to improve students' skills.

Community Links

The project offers real-world opportunities within the curriculum.

Expert Workshops

Students participate in workshops with relevant experts to ensure they gain relevant skills.


Gig Academy uses project management software to coordinate the project.

Learning Analytics

Data available about student progress and participation available through the use of the project management software.

Professional Equipment

The project offers students the opportunity to work hands on with professional equipment.

Schemes of Work

Detailed schemes of work available. Currently they are written to match the Level 2 BTEC Music course but can be altered to fit other curricula.


Professional Band
A professional band commissions a gig which the students plan.
Specialist Groups
Students are split into specialist groups, receiving workshops for specific skills as necessary.
Students plan the gig
Students plan all aspects of the gig with support from specialists such as lighting and sound engineers (from the local community).
Students run the gig
Students run all aspects of the gig on the night.


Micro:bit proto lamps were designed to enable the teaching of stage lighting skills in the classroom.

Small Scale

Designed to fit on a table top.

Models lights

Designed to model the main elements of full sized stage lights.

Enables Practise

Enables students to gain hands on practise with a lighting desk in the classroom.


The models work with all digital and physical lighting desks.


We have worked with several schools in Newcastle and North Tyneside

  • All
  • Gig Academy
  • Micro:bit Proto Lamps
  • Sound
  • Lighting
  • Front of House
  • Back of House


Gig Academy and the Micro:bit Proto Lamps are part of a PhD project at Open Lab, Newcastle University. All the development of the curriculum and associate resources have been created as part of this research.

This research is led by Rebecca Nicholson, a qualified secondary teacher and PhD student, find out more information about Rebecca here.

Participant Feedback

  • "it helped … improve my skills because it’s tested my skills in a way – it’s kind of put them to the test. It’s put me in situations where I would really need to use them and it’s helped me strengthen them by using the appropriate skills at the appropriate times."

    - Student
    Participant 2019.
  • "Because they were planning a proper gig … it feels much more important and it just feeds through into the quality of the work that they are doing ."

    - Teacher
    Participant 2019
  • "She enjoyed working and learning in a small group environment which helped with her confidence and enthusiasm – she wasn’t in the background by more dominating personalities."

    - Parent
    Of a Participant 2018


Please get in touch if you would like any further information or would like to discuss using any of the Gig Academy materials.

Rebecca Nicholson

Open Lab, Newcastle University



Open Lab

Floor 1

Urban Sciences Building

Newcastle Helix