Pupils' bid to get into the groove

A funky DJ who mixes tracks in clubs across Europe is set to give teenagers lessons in MC-ing, rap and songwriting at their school.

Fitzalan high, in Cardiff, has signed up John Lenney Jnr, DJ presenter of BBC Radio Wales's move n groove show, to give pupils a taste of life in the media world. It follows the success of a scheme to lure absent and problem pupils back into education by sending them on popular music courses.

Around 40 pupils from Fitzalan have already been assigned to accredited courses at Immtech - a hi-tech media centre based in an industrial unit at Cardiff Bay.

But under the new deal John Lenney Jnr, a former musician, will be taking lessons in the school's new futuristic multi-media centre, scheduled to open in the new year.

In exchange, Monica Roblin, Fitzalan's head of music, will be posted to Immtech on a temporary basis from September 2006.

The school believes its links with the centre will give pupils a head start in the race for an elusive job in the media world. And for some of the pupils it could even mean multi-million-pound record deals and international fame.

Pupils Taz Singh and Salman Ali recently picked up awards at the 2005 MC's awards held by Cardiff council. Taz won the garage section for the second year running, with Year 10 classmate Salman coming in runner-up.

Barry Phillips, Fitzalan's deputy head, said the school was committed to more community focus in its 14-19 curriculum. "Opportunities in the media are on the increase, and learning the skills they need early will help pupils clinch that glamorous job in an industry that is really taking off in Wales," he said.

Mr Lenny said: "There are some really talented kids out there. But if they don't get a chance to have a go their talent could be lost."

Pupils attending Immtech are taught by a string of professional songwriters, DJs and broadcasters. Dionne Bennett, resident soul diva and professional singer, is vocal coach. Tubs, real name Lyndon Cumberbatch, is the face behind the radio production.

He said some of the youngsters had potential but had been held back by drug-taking, truancy or a disadvantaged home life.

He added: "I believe some of the work they do here, such as putting together their own radio show, is equivalent to an A-level."

Two former Fitzalan pupils are also on the staff roll, including one Immtech founder, Ian Gallivan.

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