A BOURNEMOUTH school has become one of just 21 schools nationwide chosen for an Andrew Lloyd Webber lead programme, in which hundreds of students will be able to learn a classical instrument.
The Bourne Academy is the only school outside of London in the south of England that will benefit from an “exciting” initiative organised by the Music in Secondary Schools Trust (MiSST).
Officially launched at a parents evening on October 29, the programme will see every Year 7 and, eventually, Year 8 student given a classical musical instrument to learn during music lessons as well as in MiSST funded extra tuitions. Students will also be able to participate in concerts alongside other schools across the country.
A large portion of funding was provided to the school by an anonymous donor.
Bourne’s business director Caroline Gobell said: “The wonderful donor said that they had a personal history of being given an instrument at a state funded secondary school and said that it absolutely transformed their life.
“They said they could think of no better way to spend money than by giving that chance to the new generation. We’re incredibly lucky and thankful to this donor.”
The anonymous music lover independently donated £36,000, with a gift aid increasing the total to £45,000. The donation was used to purchase the 360 instruments required.
Bourne Academy principal Mark Avoth said: “We’ve been working on this for around 16 months and we couldn’t be happier.
“We have always been involved within performing arts, music, dance and sport as we feel that they’re hugely important, but we then looked to expand our classical music repertoire.
“This programme fits perfectly with our school ethos of supporting young people. Music is very highly linked to academic achievement, so those students who play an instrument will generally achieve about a grade higher in their GCSE’s.
“Most of the MiSST programme is based in London schools and their aims were to expand into the north. I contacted the CEO and we had a conversation about Bourne. She liked the ethos of our school, the fact that we’re in a disadvantaged area whereby young people won’t have as much access to musical instruments.
He added: “We eventually got that funding from the anonymous donor who will pay for every single one of our children in Year 7 and Year 8 to have a musical instrument.
“Effectively, Year 7s will have violins and flutes and they will then go into Year 8 with those. Then, the new Year 7s in 2023 will have two new instruments – you then have a quartet.”
MiSST will be taught within normal music lessons, while peripatetic staff will teach students in violin and flute.
Mark added: “Even if a small percentage go on to play an instrument for the rest of their lives, it will be a great success as far as we’re concerned.
“The link between academic success and playing a classical musical instrument is hugely important to us. It’s an opportunity that can’t be missed.”
Head of visual and performing arts David Mastrocola will oversee the delivery of MiSST to all Key Stage 3 students. He said: “I’m so delighted, the sky is the limit for the students because they are getting access to quality training which ordinarily is hugely expensive.
David added that he would also learn how to play both the flute and violin to “prepare” himself for the “new experience”.
While MiSST has a set curriculum, the school says it will also allow students to play music more in tune with popular culture. Principal Avoth suggested Harry Potter and Bond themes as a fun alternative to Beethoven or Mozart compositions.
MiSST CEO Rachel Landon said: “MiSST is thrilled to be partnering with The Bourne Academy from September 2022.
“The Academy, like us, is dedicated to bringing opportunities to children who may not have been able to afford this provision and the Academy understands the positive impact that a high-quality music programme can have on children and staff are committed to bringing this entitlement to them.
“The children will get a minimum of two years tuition and will be following our curriculum named The Andrew Lloyd Webber Programme which has had a significant impact on the lives of so many children around the country.”