Newham’s free music programme praised in House of Lords

Children various schools from Newham East London, warm up their instruments outside the Palace of We

Children various schools from Newham East London, warm up their instruments outside the Palace of Westminster before performing at a House of Lords reception. Photo credit : Andrew Baker/LNP - Credit: Andrew Baker

A borough-wide free music programme for children was praised in the House of Lords by a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra boss this week.

A report on Newham Council’s Every Child A Musician (ECaM) programme by the Institute of Education was presented in Parliament on Monday January 21 where it was endorsed by Ian Maclay, the managing director of the top orchestra.

The report concludes: “...this is only a beginning of an opportunity to enrich the lives of the thousands of children taking part, as well as the wider community, both within Newham and beyond.

“The vision that underlies the ECaM programme is to be applauded – long may it continue.”

The council invest £2m a year into the scheme that allows primary school pupils in Years Five and Six up to three years of free musical tuition with free loan of an instrument which they get to keep if they finish the programme.

The success of the programme inspired West Ham MP Lyn Brown to ask Education Secretary Michael Gove in Parliament why arts subjects were not included in his proposed English Baccalaureatte.

Ms Brown, who took up the clarinet just over a year ago, said: “I was unsurprised when Michael Gove failed to answer the question. This Government fails to understand the importance of arts education but Robin Wales and Newham Council clearly do which is good news for the children of Newham.”

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Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said: “Newham is home to the country’s youngest population but is also one of the poorest places in the UK.

“I strongly believe that the arts are crucial to creating aspiration among our young people and that widening access to music and breaking down barriers to participation has the potential to both raise educational attainment and broaden cultural horizons.”