MUSIC teacher Molly Newton talks to education reporter Haydn Lewis about using music to bridge the gap between primary and secondary education.

SCHOOLS in York are using music to help prepare youngsters for the sometimes difficult transition from primary to secondary education.

Teacher Molly Newton says she wears many hats in her work life, spending much of her time working as a primary liaison at Hempland, Heworth CE and Lord Deramore’s primary schools conducting classes at Archbishop Holgate’s CE secondary school.

She said: “The idea is that every term I’ll work with different feeder primary schools and they all come together to perform in collaborative concerts once or even twice a term.

“My role at Archbishop Holgate’s is as a teacher of music to a Year 7 class, lots of whom I taught last year at Hempland or Heworth, and during that time as a music primary liaison person, I spend extra time with upper Key Stage 2 children at Heworth, Hempland and Lord Deramore’s.

“The singing and work with instruments means children from primary schools get to meet secondary school pupils and teachers, helping to remove some of the anxiety of going from primary to secondary school, easing them in gently and allowing them to experience the school in a different way.

“Music is such a cohesive thing that it can bring the children together – it’s about instilling confidence in the children.”

In addition, to her work in schools, Mrs Newton also teaches as a guest lecturer on the PGCE course at York St John University as well as managing a website for pre-school music group York Mini Musicians – which she co-founded with her friend and former colleague, Ish Herd, in 2010.

This group allows children to learn through songs, games and activities to compose, perform and appreciate all kinds of music, with regular visits from local performing groups and past performances including a ukulele band, a wind ensemble and a barbershop quartet.

Mrs Newton said: “I think my job is pretty unique. I teach more than 380 children every week and in my spare time I run two school choirs and teach private piano and singing lessons and bring up my two small children.”

Recently, as part of the programme, deaf trumpeter Sean Chandler and former Stomp member Billy Hickling delivered two “inspiration day” workshops which involved Hempland and Heworth primary schools, as well as Archbishop Holgate’s and York Mini-Musicians.

Mrs Newton said the workshops came about after she attended a conference organised by Music 4U, youth music’s musical inclusion programme for York and the Humber region. She said the conference examined how under-fives with hearing loss get to benefit from music.

Andrew Daly, head teacher at Archbishop Holgate’s, said: “The link between primary and secondary is essential in ensuring our young people receive the very best care and support as they leave their primary school.

“Music is a wonderful way for schools to work together and for young people to experience the joy of music as they practice with students from primary and secondary schools and then perform at such events as the Minster Carol Concert.

“The Archbishop Holgate’s Carol Concert was wonderful this year as five primary schools joined Archbishop’s to perform in York Minster.”