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Second Middlesbrough school joins Andrew Lloyd Webber programme

Cllr Mieka Smiles, Rachel Landon and Melissa Brant-Smith with Outwood Academy Riverside pupils

The whole of year 7 at a second Middlesbrough secondary school is learning a classical instrument as an Andrew Lloyd Webber-backed scheme is extended in the town.

Children at Outwood Academy Riverside are now enrolled with the Music in Secondary Schools Trust (MiSST) after further funding was agreed by Middlesbrough Council, MiSST and the town centre school.

MiSST launched in Middlesbrough last year and now year 7 and 8 pupils at the King’s Academy in Coulby Newham follow the Andrew Lloyd Webber Programme that lasts for three years. 

The programme came to Middlesbrough following an approach from Deputy Mayor, Cllr Mieka Smiles. More than 440 students at King’s Academy have taken part so far and additional funding now means almost 200 pupils at Outwood Riverside will have the opportunity to enjoy the curriculum over three years.

Every student in year 7 will have access to a free instrument and a weekly lesson. A Council report signed off last month outlined how over 90% of students would not be able to access the teaching without the programme.

MiSST offers students the chance to play in national concerts in London and take part in residential programmes at the prestigious Radley School.

The Council is now inviting businesses to come forward to offer sponsorship which would help more young people benefit.

Cllr Smiles said: “MiSST has gone down a storm at King’s Academy and it was a privilege for me to be able to travel to London and watch students perform alongside their peers from around the country.

“We’ve been determined to roll the programme out further and it’s brilliant news that Outwood Academy Riverside are now on board.”

Melissa Brant-Smith, Principal at Outwood Academy Riverside, said of the new partnership: “This is an amazing opportunity for our students to have experience learning and playing a classical instrument.

Students will stand out from their peers by having additional talents and knowledge, enhancing their cultural capital and future opportunities. Not only this, for our students, playing and listening to classical music has a calming effect, decreasing anxiety and improving focus”.

A further £15,000 in Council funding was approved by Cllr Stephen Hill, Executive Member for Culture and Communities. MiSST are also financially contributing and supporting the programme’s development. 

Cllr Hill said: “It’s fantastic that we can continue our partnership with MiSST. The students at King’s Academy are really enjoying the experience and it’s important that we can give the opportunity to even more young people.”

MiSST says its programme of excellence is unrivalled in the UK. The trust's mission is to be at the forefront of classical music education. Students develop attitudes, skills and behaviours that can help them make positive changes in all aspects of their lives.

MiSST CEO Rachel Landon said: “We are absolutely delighted to be rolling the programme out in Middlesbrough.

“Middlesbrough is a shining example of how by coming together as partners we can achieve more.

“The Council, schools and the music service have all been totally committed to making this work for the benefit of hundreds of children. MiSST is committed to the children of Middlesbrough and wants to help as many schools and children here as possible.”

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber said: "Engagement in the arts changes lives. The positive impact of the arts on health, social mobility and wellbeing are now irrefutable.

"I passionately believe that everyone in this country, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, should be able to participate and I am thrilled MiSST's music programme will make the difference for these young people."

The Council's commitment to MiSST builds on its support for Musinc, a programme of inclusive music making for children across the Tees Valley.