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Chance to stand up and be talented

Most youngsters baulk at the idea of classes in the summer holidays but 10-year-old Terry Sinclair will have the last laugh.

The Merseyside youngster, who has been attending one of the Government's 500 gifted and talented summer schools, is nurturing his ambition to become a stand-up comedian.

The budding funnyman said attending the school at St Ambrose Barlow high, Netherton, Merseyside, has boosted his confidence and sharpened his one-liners.

The summer programmes - which will cost a total of pound;4.5 million - aim to enrich and extend the education of gifted and talented pupils in Years 6 to 9, with a particular focus on the transition from primary to secondary school.

Terry said: "I have wanted to be a stand-up comedian for about two years now - I like to practise my jokes on my friends - they seem to find them quite funny."

He is one of 42 pupils, aged 10 to 14, identified by primary heads in the Netherton area for their talents in art, drama, music and dance.

Six older gifted pupils have acted as mentors for the scheme - the first arts summer school in the area.

The scheme was launched by Edward Bannister, head of English and drama at St Ambrose Barlow, and his wife Louisa, who is head of art at the school.

He said: "We want to build their self-confidence, help them find their own voice while also having fun." They chose the theme of the Arabian Nights to tie together the different strands of music, art, drama and dance.

The youngsters took part in workshops involving textile designers, jewellers and two artists from the Royal Academy. Former English teacher Helen Roberts taught them belly dancing.

The eight-day course ran from 9.30am to 3.30pm with a half-hour lunch-break. It culminated on Wednesday when the children acted out two tales from the Arabian Nights: The Story of the Envious Sisters and The Story of the Little Beggar.

Louisa Bannister said: "The children were so full of enthusiasm that some of them were coming in here at 8.30am, rushing to eat their sandwiches for lunch and not taking any breaks."

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