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Andrew Lloyd Webber backs secondary schools music

24 April 2013

Andrew Lloyd Webber has launched the Music in Secondary Schools Trust, which will roll out a new music education programme in secondary schools across England. The 'Andrew Lloyd Webber Music Programme' will be supported by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and the Charles Wolfson Trust, to the tune of £2m over its first four years. It will give every child at participating schools the opportunity to study a musical instrument as part of a compulsory curriculum.

The programme is based on the music scheme developed by Truda White, former headteacher of Highbury Grove School, Islington, North London. It aims to improve discipline and the students' commitment to learning; develop team working skills; and enrich the lives of students by providing regular music tuition and performing opportunities as part of ensemble and orchestra groups. Before implementing the scheme Highbury Grove was judged to be effective and improving but had an Ofsted rating of 4 (in 2002); one year after beginning the programme (in 2007) it was judged to be good and three years later it received an Ofsted rating of 1 (outstanding). Ms White believes the programme demonstrated that music can transform the entire academic experience of students.
Schools will be selected for the new scheme through an application process, with top priority being given to schools in areas of deprivation or communities where access to high-quality arts projects is limited. Other criteria include an Ofsted 3 judgement of 'satisfactory - requires improvement' and having high aspirations for all.
The Lister School in the London Borough of Newham will be the trust's first partner school for September 2013. Both the Lister School and Highbury Grove will run the programme during the 2013-14 academic year, with a further two schools for 2014-15. Lord Lloyd-Webber notes that this is not about creating performing artists, but about changing the lives of secondary school students. Asked by the Guardian at the Highbury Grove launch about the reaction of government to his plans, he said that at the moment he finds it difficult to get a returned phone call from ministers. 'They all pay lip service but I wonder if any of them have been to a place like this.'
The composer's wife, Madeleine Lloyd Webber, said: 'This is one of the most exciting projects the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has been a part of.'

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