In the News - Matthew Stimpson

Georgia Laird

Matthew is head of music at Beckfoot School in Bingley, West Yorkshire. At the end of 2010 he was named Classic FM's Secondary School Music Teacher of the Year. The awards, which are in their 12th year, were presented at the Royal Albert Hall during the Music for Youth School Proms in front of thousands of people. But it wasn't too daunting for this talented teacher, who conducts the school's Christmas concerts in fancy dress ...

You didn't get stage fright, then?

"No. I did keep thinking about the steps, though, and how I didn't want to fall over them on the stage. However, it was well organised, and there was no standing and waiting around so I didn't have time to get worried. As a musician, you always want to perform at the Royal Albert Hall. For me, going there will always be special as I went up on stage in front of my friends, family and thousands of people from all over the country."

Was it a big day out?

"Yes. I got the phone call telling me I had won just after the October half-term, so I took 12 of us to London: my mum and dad, my colleagues, the head and deputy, and six students. I chose sixth-formers because I've been at the school for six years and they started with me. We all sat and watched the show in a box."

What made you the winner?

"I was nominated by Sarah Whittaker, our head of expressive arts. The application process required us to send a video in. We sent a DVD of our school's Christmas concert; I think that won them over. It showed that the kids had the ability to do the show themselves - a Christmas concert with a wide variety of ensembles such as a duet of eight players and a huge concert band. Two hundred pupils took part. And then there was me, dressed as a Christmas pudding."

So what was that all about?

"One year, another teacher dared me to do the Christmas concert dressed as Santa Claus, so I did. Now every year I dress up as something to do with Christmas. This year I was a turkey. I've been a reindeer with a tail between my legs that looked like something else. My favourite, though, was the three kings, where I had two extra heads on my shoulders."

What is your costume for next Christmas?

"Ah, that's top secret. I have to keep that one to myself as it's always a surprise."

Is it important to keep it fun?

"Yes. Music is a great subject; I get something out of the kids that you wouldn't get in an ordinary subject. When I was at school my music department was quite small, so I have always had the intention to build a music department with a sense of community. People want to be there and they want to have fun."

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Georgia Laird

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