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Dance drama performed by Haywood High School pupils for Staffordshire's Aiming High arts initiative

(Photograph) - HAYWOOD High School pupils in Stoke-on-Trent perform their 'Beginning of Life' dance drama set to music. Pupils from 30 Staffordshire schools will take part this week in the finale of the county's Aiming High project, a five-year arts initiative to raise the aspirations of 13 and 14-year-olds in the area, writes Lynn Greenwood.

Each year 4,500 Year 9 pupils take part in a cross-curricular programme of events, centred on a combined music and arts project with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and, this year, the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Nearly 500 take part in the final show.

North Staffordshire has suffered low staying-on rates and a sharp decline in traditional industries. But Aiming High has brought some success.

Christian Jones, 18, a former pupil of Moorside high school, Werrington, now a student at London's Royal Academy of Music, says his work with the BBC Philharmonic at school gave him the crucial push for a career in music.

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