Why musician swapped working with pop stars to teaching Newham pupils

Little Ilford School's head of music Olu Sodeinde.

Little Ilford School's head of music Olu Sodeinde. - Credit: University of East London

A teacher who has worked with pops stars like Leona Lewis, Sam Smith and Rita Ora has transformed a Manor Park school music department.

Olu Sodeinde’s love for music drew him to a professional performing career, working with numerous global celebrities, but his passion for teaching led him back to the classroom.

He is now head of music at Little Ilford School.

Music teacher Olu Sodeinde in the classroom at Little Ilford School.

Olu Sodeinde in the classroom at Little Ilford School. - Credit: Little Ilford School

Such has been his impact, Mr Sodeinde features in Channel 4 series Rebel With A Cause, which celebrates teachers who break the mould as part of a Department for Education teacher recruitment campaign.

Mr Sodeinde said: “There is nothing like being in the classroom.


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"Students will never forget what you tell them and what you tell them can shape and change the course of their destiny.”

When he joined the school in Rectory Road in 2014, Mr Sodeinde was asked to set up the music department from scratch.

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It has a music studio and runs about 20 different clubs.

"East London has a real blend of culture, so I wanted to bring that together in music: dohl, tabla, samba drums, pop, gospel, music technology and so on," Mr Sodeinde said.

"What I absolutely love is the magic of being able to pass on my passion."

Mr Sodeinde uses his previous industry experience to help with teaching, sharing his knowledge through the curriculum and with his pupils.

Little Ilford School headteacher Ian Wilson said: "Olu has been an inspiration to our students, both through his technical ability as a singer and instrumentalist and as a sunny and warm-hearted individual who is loved by staff and students alike."

Mr Sodeinde trained as a teacher at the University of East London (UEL) in 2010.

UEL senior music lecturer Dr Christopher Dalladay said: "One of Olu’s great ideas was to make use of an overhead camera connected to the interactive whiteboard, which allowed the pupils to see what he was demonstrating on a keyboard rather than getting them to all crowd around and not see much at all."

Mr Sodeinde attributes his teaching outlook to the mentors who have inspired him over the years.

“I just want to give to my students what my teacher gave to me," he said.

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