“Because we’re from Belle Isle lots of people don’t expect a lot from us, but because we have been given this opportunity, people see us in a different light”
– Helen, pupil at Windmill Primary School
International law firm Pinsent Masons has announced that it will be supporting Opera North’s award-winning music education programme In Harmony Opera North over the next three years. To launch the partnership, nine young In Harmony Opera North primary school pupils showcased their skills at Pinsent Masons’ Autumn Reception last night at Harvey Nichols.
In Harmony Opera North currently impacts the lives of over 1,800 pupils in full-time education in south Leeds. Participating primary schools include Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle, where the project launched in 2013, Low Road Primary School in Hunslet, New Bewerley Community School in Beeston and, since 2018, Richmond Hill Academy in Cross Green.
More recently, In Harmony Opera North has started running after school sessions at The Ruth Gorse Academy to ensure the pupils’ musical talents continue to be nurtured when they transition to secondary school. This September also saw the start of a two-year collaboration with The Stephen Longfellow Academy which works with students who are struggling to maintain a full-time place in mainstream education.
Jacqui Timmins, Pinsent Masons Head of Office in Leeds, commented:
“Our firm is passionate about raising young people’s aspirations and in breaking down any barriers that may prevent a child from achieving their full potential. Through this partnership, we are proud to be playing our part in enabling Opera North to continue its vital work delivering life-changing experiences for the young people of Leeds through the provision of music education.”
The programme ensures every pupil in the school learns to sing and to play an orchestral instrument. There are also regular opportunities for the young people to perform in Leeds and further afield, as well as the chance to learn from, and perform with, the musicians of the Orchestra of Opera North. Using music in this way has been shown to enrich the lives of both pupils and staff, as well as those of the wider community, raising aspirations and self-confidence as well as aiding the development of creative problem-solving and communication skills. An impressive uplift in attainment and behaviour has been seen at every participating school, including a marked improvement in the pupils’ SATS results.
Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, said:
“We are delighted that Pinsent Masons has chosen to support us in this way. Their generous sponsorship will enable us to continue to expand the In Harmony Opera North project, ensuring even more children in Leeds get a chance to experience the transformational power of music. Our passionate belief in early music education, and the effect it has on children’s academic attainment more broadly, is borne out every year when the participating schools release their SATS results. It is also encouraging to witness the increased parental and social engagement in the communities where we work.”
Andy Gamble, Executive Headteacher at Low Road & Windmill Music Federation, said:
“The In Harmony programme continues to be an essential ingredient in ensuring the future success of our pupils. It defines our identity and ethos, and enriches the social, moral, spiritual and cultural aspects of our curriculum in a way that no other project can match. Levels of parental engagement have soared over the term of the project and relationships across our school communities are fantastic.
“My pupils exude pride and passion for In Harmony Opera North. Long may it continue to change lives for the better”
This post is based on a press release issued by Opera North
Photo: Justin Slee