Making Room for Music

I have, over the years of my career, visited many other schools and for many different reasons. This weekend I visited Harrow School, in north London. The current full fees are £40,050 per year.

Harrow School is 450 years old. Among its site facilities to support music and performing arts are specialist teaching and practice rooms, as well as a Concert Hall for chamber music. Pupils regularly perform in a number of other buildings on the estate including Speech Room, Chapel, the Ryan Theatre and the Vaughan Library. The School has two major pipe organs, several grand pianos, and a harpsichord. There are two recording studios and a suite of 25 computers and midi keyboards with notation and sequencing software. Over half the Harrow School pupils learn an instrument. Tuition is offered in all orchestral instruments, as well as the piano, organ, guitar, bagpipes and singing. Musicians are involved in ensemble work through choirs, bands and orchestras; there are more than 80 concerts and productions each year, with many solo performance opportunities.

You do get a great deal for that £40,050 a year.

The school is fantastic, and the people I met were just the same.

Lydgate Junior School is funded at around £3,600 per pupil per year. We put on a very impressive range of music opportunities. Our children learn and perform in different ensembles including wind band, hand bells and orchestra. They perform at school in the hall, and at venues nearby in the city. We have three upright pianos and a range of brass and woodwind instruments available for hire. Our IT suite has software available to compose and play pieces. We have one dedicated music room. It holds keyboards, one of those three pianos, a full drum kit and a set of djembes. Over one quarter of our pupils learn an instrument through peripatetic lessons. We also have choir and singing practice for all year groups. We employ staff with a real passion, flair and expertise in music and stage performance.

Our problem is that we have run out of space and time to fit any more sessions in to the packed week. We run a complicated maze of timetables for the few ‘spare’ rooms (with doors) to fit in our core lessons and learning, meetings, teacher planning and preparation, small group work and all those peri lessons. We use rooms that are also kitchens, staffrooms, offices, withdrawal rooms, ‘quiet rooms’ and the music room.

To develop our offer and children’s experience further we could do with proper practice and performance spaces that do not intrude on other lessons. I am, honestly, not jealous of the facilities enjoyed by pupils at the grand schools I have visited (which includes Christ’s Hospital School) but what we could do with just one year of comparable funding!

Search our website


We've achieved...


Our target is...