The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 27th September:
When discussing schools and education, much of our focus is rightly on subjects such as English, Maths, and Science, and the success of students in these core areas.
But we shouldn’t forget about the more creative subjects, either.
Lessons in music, drama, and art, for example, not only provide another area to gain important grades, but can have a wider impact on the students themselves.
For many children, these subjects allow them to express themselves and show off their talents and creativity, with a career in a relevant field an option for some.
This isn’t restricted to the classroom, either.
Some children take part in these activities in after school clubs, where teachers and supervisors often selflessly give up their own time to encourage and nurture the creative talents young people in our community have to offer.
And when recently visiting a school in Cudworth, I heard about a brilliant example of this right here in our town.
Birkwood Primary School, like many others in Barnsley, has seen pupils take up instruments, and in this case form a brass band ensemble to follow in the footsteps of the proud local tradition we have in our community.
In fact, the collection of young musicians were inspired to start by a performance by the world-renowned Grimethorpe Colliery Band itself in the school hall some years ago.
The children have their instruments provided, and receive tuition courtesy of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
The band encourages creativity, develops the musical skills of the pupils, teaches excellent life skills like teamwork and camaraderie, and links this generation to the traditions of the past in continuing our town’s proud legacy of brass bands.
And it is funded by the school, who rightly believe it fits with their motto of ‘Inspire, Cherish, Achieve’.
It’s an excellent initiative, and indicative of the opportunity I want every young person here in Barnsley to have.
So whether it’s an arts club, drama class, or band practices, alongside their studies in other subjects, each pupil should have the chance to participate in creative programmes.
Young people in our community have so much to offer, and have the potential to contribute creatively and culturally not just here in Barnsley, but right across the world.
It’s only right we give them the opportunity to do so.