More than 4,700 children in Islington have benefited from free music lessons in the last three years – an achievement celebrated with dazzling performances from 20 young musicians, hosted by a home-grown rising star.

Young Islington actor Afi Okaidja hosted the Transforming Young Lives evening at Kings Place with well-known poet Roger Robinson, in front of an audience of children, parents, politicians and community partners.

Music Education Islington, which offers music lessons to all Islington children and young people, celebrates its third birthday this spring, along with the 11 by 11 programme, which provides outstanding creative and cultural experiences to young people at world-class institutions, and the 100 Hours World of Work programme, which gives youngsters valuable insight and experience of the world of work.

Together, these programmes have opened the door to opportunities and expertise in Islington for thousands of the borough’s children and young people that, in most cases, would not have been available to them otherwise. The Transforming Young Lives event was also a chance for the many institutions, charities and businesses involved in the enrichment programmes to exchange ideas and look to the future.

Council leader Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz said: “I am incredibly proud of Islington’s amazing young people. We are determined to make Islington the best place to grow up, and I’m so pleased to see Music Education Islington, 100 Hours World of Work and 11 by 11 clearly helping our youth to make the most of their potential.

“Thousands of young people are gaining experiences they may not have had otherwise and developing skills they didn’t have before. This is a borough-wide effort and organisations across Islington have played a key part in making these programmes a success.”

Since its inception, MEI – a pioneering partnership between the council and lead partner Guildhall School of Music & Drama – has delivered almost 31,000 hours of music lessons, engaged almost 12,000 pupils, seen more than 6,000 instrument loans and held 30 large-scale performances or events.

The 11 by 11 programme has delivered more than 32,000 pupil experiences with cultural, educational and business institutions including The Institute Of Physics and The Liliesleaf Trust, while the 100 Hours’ World Of Work programme has brokered almost 17,000 experiences between pupils and employers in the borough.

Meanwhile, the council today announces a £1million package of youth support in Islington, including a brand new dance studio as part of a £500,000 overhaul of Lift youth hub, and a commitment to an extra £500,000 per year, every year, for its youth support offer across the borough.

Cllr Michelline Ngongo, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Making Islington the best place to grow up means making sure every young person in Islington feels a sense of ownership of the safe spaces provided. These spaces need to be inclusive, inspiring and provide support to young people. We hope that the youth centres will be able to capture the imagination of all our young people and ensure that no-one gets left behind.

“We’re absolutely determined to make this a reality and our new, enhanced youth offer is key to achieving this. In the coming months our team will reach out to new communities, in new places, to make sure that the right support is on offer, is working well and is effective.”

The £500,000 of extra funding annually will allow the new universal youth offer to improve equality of access, extending further into communities to ensure the needs of more young people are met, particularly the most vulnerable and those not currently accessing the service.

Enhanced community networks will allow for more flexible youth work, directed where it’s needed and tailored to fit, while also engaging communities that have not previously used the service. As part of this approach, a new youth centre on the Andover Estate will also be launched in the summer at Andover Community Centre. The delivery of the enhanced youth offer will also be monitored and assessed to ensure it is both high-quality and impactful.

Music Education Islington:

Music Education Islington offers high quality music education and progression opportunities to all children and young people in Islington, irrespective of their background. Led by Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Islington Council and funded by Arts Council England and Dame Alice Owen Foundation, MEI provides:

Opportunities to learn singing and playing an instrument with clear progression routes including free or discounted provision for those on low incomes
CPD supporting schools to deliver music in the curriculum and increasing teachers’ confidence to sing and perform with students
Opportunities to perform in live concerts with professional musicians through renowned music organisations like Guildhall School and the Barbican
A 2019 report by the Social Mobility Commission found children from the poorest backgrounds are three times less likely to learn a musical instrument, sing in a choir or play in a school orchestra than pupils from wealthier families:

11 by 11 is a free programme of creative and cultural activity. It aims to offer 11 outstanding cultural experiences to all children and young people in Islington by Year 11. Through partnership with the rich range of local cultural organisations, it provides:

A termly universal menu of free activities and a summer festival
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and networking for teachers and cultural sector staff
Targeted work with children and young people in challenging circumstances

11 by 11 experiences – case studies:

Institute of Physics + Sacred Heart Primary School
Last year, staff from The Institute of Physics spent a week with Year 6 pupils from Sacred Heart Primary School, intensively learning about, designing and creating 3D models of sustainable buildings for the future.

Pupils heard from specialists in different fields of science, gaining insights into how buildings work and seeing the relationship between STEM subjects, applying them to a purposeful project.

One of the teachers involved said: “11 by 11 is a fantastic initiative, essential to all young children. Many of us don’t realise how little of our community and great city the children get to see outside of school. 11 by 11 helps to broaden children’s horizons through great workshops and trip opportunities.”

The Liliesleaf Trust + Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School

Year 10 pupils watched a screening of Life is Wonderful: Mandela’s Unsung Heroes, followed by a Q&A session with its director, Sir Nick Stadlen, a former High Court judge. This was followed by two-day workshops with a smaller group of Year 10 pupils, producing creative responses to the heritage of struggle against apartheid, including discussion about ongoing societal injustices and creative ways to effect change (spoken word, poetry, speech writing, leadership and active citizenship skills).

Architect-led sessions were also held in which pupils co-designed exhibition plans for the new Centre of Memory and Learning in Angel. The exhibition explores protest against racism and racial injustice through history, across the world, and its influence on contemporary British society and movements for change.

The sessions helped students develop a wider understanding of how effective social change can occur, and gave them the tools to create change themselves, either for them as an individual or as an active participant in wider community settings.

One of the teachers involved said they were “touched by the content that the students had written,” adding that “more of these sessions are required”.

100 Hours World of Work is a free programme of career-related activities suitable for primary and secondary schools. It aims to equip students with 100 hours of experience of the world of work by the age of 16. It provides:

A universal menu of free careers activities from a wide variety of employers
A CPD network supporting careers education in schools with online resources and a weekly careers news bulletin
Targeted support for specialist schools and for young people in challenging circumstances

All Rights Reserved by the photographer, Steve Bainbridge. Any reproduction without prio consent is strictly forbidden.
Email: [email protected]

All Rights Reserved by the photographer, Steve Bainbridge. Any reproduction without prio consent is strictly forbidden.
Email: [email protected]

All Rights Reserved by the photographer, Steve Bainbridge. Any reproduction without prio consent is strictly forbidden.
Email: [email protected]

All Rights Reserved by the photographer, Steve Bainbridge. Any reproduction without prio consent is strictly forbidden.
Email: [email protected]

All Rights Reserved by the photographer, Steve Bainbridge. Any reproduction without prio consent is strictly forbidden.
Email: [email protected]

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