Musical excellence transforms the lives of students across the David Ross Education Trust

Monday, November 13, 2017

As part of the David Ross Education Trust’s pioneering enrichment programme, students and staff from the Trust’s 34 academies take part in quality music-making to develop their creativity and life skills.

Over 12,000 primary and secondary students across the network are actively encouraged to play a musical instrument, make music with others and learn to sing through the Trust’s musical strategy, which helps to build focus and perseverance.

Research shows that music is a valuable activity in its own right, but it also acts as as a valuable development tool. Music has become central within the Trust’s vision to help raise academic aspirations amongst young people, help them to maintain a sense of well-being and encourage them to explore their passions and discover their talents.


The Trust recognises that most children will have their first musical experience at primary school, so it is important that a high quality music education is available to as many students as possible. Thanks to an innovative partnership with the Voices Foundation, the David Ross Education Trust has launched a Singing Schools Programme to help pupils to establish firm musical foundations through singing.  As part of the programme, an extensive teacher development strand develops the skills and confidence of school staff in order to lead a high quality and effective singing-based music curriculum; alongside this, pupils and staff also receive regular visits from a dedicated choral director who works directly with the children to develop their singing and choral technique.

Since the launch of the Singing Schools Programme, the Trust’s Kings Heath Primary Academy in Northampton has seen an increase in Year 6 SATs results from 31% combined (reading, writing and Maths), to 64% combined. Following the successful trial at Kings Heath, the Singing Schools Programme is now being adopted by 13 academies within the Trust.

In September 2017, four more of the Trust’s schools joined the Singing School’s programme: The Arbours Primary Academy in Northampton, Edward Heneage Primary Academy in Grimsby, Ingoldsby Academy near Grantham and Rockingham Primary School in Corby.

As part of the Trust’s innovative music strategy, Brass and Wind Band projects have been rolled out across secondary schools in Lincolnshire, enabling students to learn an instrument for the first time and to be part of a regularly rehearsing ensemble. Students from Thomas Middlecott Academy, based in Kirton near Boston, have now joined their local brass bands as a result of their regular practice sessions at school.

More David Ross Education Trust students than ever before are choosing to study Music at GCSE level, and an extensive teaching development programme means that all staff are able to develop their skills and confidence to lead high quality choral activity.

Simon Toyne, Director of Music at the David Ross Education Trust, said: “Our music enrichment programme is part of the great all-round education students can expect at a Trust school. It is unique and is designed expressly to help students discover their voice, build their confidence and develop important life-skills. Our Singing Schools Programme in partnership with the Voices Foundation is just one of the many programmes we run to create outstanding opportunities for our students.”

“Throughout the Christmas period, over 1,400 of our students will attend carol services across the region, in venues such as Bridlington Priory, Grimsby Minster and St Matthew’s Northampton. In addition, students from Grimsby’s Havelock Academy, Humberston Academy and Northampton’s Malcolm Arnold Academy will perform at Hull Minster with the Gabrieli Consort and Players as part of Gabrieli Roar’s young singers’ scheme. The event, directed by the renowned conductor Paul McCreesh, recreates a German Baroque Christmas Mass by the composer Michael Praetorius through a theatrical mix of intimate solo writing and passionately expressive ensembles, with the use of historical instruments of every shape and size. The students are completely engaged in the music during rehearsals and can’t wait to sing alongside the professional singers and players.”   


The David Ross Education Trust offers an array of incredible performing opportunities for students through the only academy-wide enrichment programme of its kind within the state education sector. The Trust works with world-renowned organisations to help further enrich the learning experiences of pupils and provide musical experiences which can change their lives.  

From participating in workshops delivered by acclaimed artists and conductors, to attending professional performances with some of the UK’s leading performers, students across the Trust are able to explore their creativity and develop their musicianship. Among the many activities this year, over 300 pupils took part in workshops with the Nevill Holt Opera company, leading to performances of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde led by students from the Trustand an exclusive VIP drumming masterclass with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason provided music scholars with the opportunity to learn from the very best.

Over 1,000 primary and secondary pupils took part in this year’s Music Cup and Primary Festivals. These annual events provide an outstanding platform for talented students to build their confidence and grow their talents through live performance, whilst providing a focus for individual academies to work towards.