New music classroom brings 'awe and wonder' to young pupils
Music lessons can often fall victim to under-resourcing at rural primary schools, with a lack of teachers and funds for equipment. But one primary school in Norfolk has pulled out all the stops in the renovation of a new music classroom. Iceni Academy Hockwold has pumped significant investment into the new facility, which is housed in an outbuilding on the school playground on a site formerly occupied by a mobile classroom.
The bright room is packed with instruments including several ukuleles, a variety of percussion instruments including a full drum kit and a vast collection of steel pans, donated by assistant headteacher and music lead Alicia Rickards who has played in steel bands for 22 years.
Mrs Rickards, who has taught at Iceni Academy Hockwold since 2012, said there was "awe and wonder" from the school's pupils when they first saw the new room. "The old classroom really had to go and we really wanted something in its place," she said. "Our headteacher Emma Owner has been working so hard on this herself. She has a real passion for the school and she really moves things forward. "We worked really hard over the Easter holidays so the children were able to see it all laid out ready and good to go in the new term."
Mrs Rickards, who previously taught at the former Breckland Middle School, said the new room had enabled the school not just to expand its collection of instruments but also its music curriculum. "The best thing for me is that it is not just about singing anymore. With the steel pans it opens up the composing element of music. The children are absolutely loving it," she said. "It is really important for our school to keep all the foundation subjects and never to just teach to the test."
As well as providing a space for children to stretch their musical muscles and their creativity, the room plays host to rehearsals for a community steel band. It is also used by the school as the assembly hall and has been used this month for year six pupils to sit their exams in. Mrs Owner said music was an integral part of the school curriculum - and its 19 extra-curricular clubs.
"There is something amazing about seeing children, particularly those who struggle to sit down at a table, show pure excitement when drumming or learning to play an instrument. It is what learning is all about," she said.