As part of the national curriculum Buckholme Towers School and Nursery offers music lessons as well as extracurricular activities to widen pupils’ skillsets, boost confidence and make new friends. Headmaster Iain Robertson explains:
“At Buckholme we are very proud of the high educational standards our students reach as well as the fantastic achievements in non-academic areas such as music and sport. We encourage every pupil from six years old to get involved in some form of performance whether it is acting, singing, music or sport, so that they can have fun, mix with children in other age groups and learn the importance of team work.
“In music, we have specialist teachers who ensure pupils learn the theory behind the subject and try a wide range of instruments including saxophone, clarinet, violin, cello, drums and guitar. As soon as the children achieve a certain standard in music they are invited to join the school orchestra. The orchestra is a 30-strong group of mixed ability girls and boys from Year 2 to 6. When students participate in group activities such as this, music becomes fun and they enjoy playing alongside each other.
“Children soon learn that playing an instrument requires discipline, they have to practise to improve. They can buy their own instruments or rent from the school and receive tuition from peripatetic teachers. There are a number of opportunities for them to join in external musical activities or to be part of the school choir and sing for local charities, churches or clubs as well as showcasing their talent in school concerts. Last year the choir helped to raise hundreds of pounds for local causes.
“Every March we host the ‘B-Factor’, a talent show which has been a Buckholme tradition for years. B-Factor gives children the chance to shine outside the classroom, through music, singing and acting – we’ve even had some stand-up comedy! Our pupils love the opportunity to perform in front of their friends and showcase their talents. Many of our musicians leave Buckholme at Grade 3 level, some achieving even higher, with a number going on to gain scholarships at independent senior schools.
“Our most recognisable shining star is cellist Natalie Clien, now 37, who has performed with orchestras around the world including venues in Salzburg, Vienna, Tokyo and Sydney. At 16 she won both BBC Young Musician of the Year and the Eurovision Competition for Young Musicians and in 2005 she won the classical BRIT for Young British Performer.
“Over the years we have seen our pupils excel and go on to achieve great success as adults. Whatever their skills, we aim to help children flourish in subjects that they enjoy and so ultimately they learn that education can be fun and rewarding.”