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Budgets for top notes

MONDAY morning. Class has not yet started, but Woodlands primary in the east London borough of Redbridge echoes to the sound of music.

The 20 to 30-strong orchestra practises weekly with the help of roving specialist teachers from the council's music service.

"We are lucky in Redbridge," said Jacqui Holder, head of the 450-pupil school in south Ilford. "We have a very strong music service. We budget to pay for the teachers as we give a high priority to music."

More than 90 per cent of her pupils come from ethnic-minority backgrounds - mainly the Indian sub-continent.

Many of the children are refugees or asylum-seekers, with 38 per cent of the 11-year-olds classed as transient last year. Half receive free school meals and English is a second language for 86 per cent.

"The main reason we promote the creative arts is to give childrn the chance to express themselves as some struggle with the language and come here with a lot of emotional baggage," said Mrs Holder. "And as they come from a poor area I wonder what other exposure to music they would get."

Mrs Holder employs a specialist music teacher three days a week, up from two days last year as the school has expanded.

Apart from the Woodlands orchestra, there are two choirs, every child has the chance to play the recorder, and each class gets a 45-minute music lesson a week. There are also outings to the Redbridge music festivals, the Lollipop Proms at the South Bank, and workshops run by the council's music service.

Mrs Holder said: "We are taking advantage of the Govenrment's Standards Fund money for ethnic music - we're doing the samba rhythm with Year 6 as it fits in with their work on

Brazil."

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