The school is alive with the sound of music (again)

12th December 2014 at 00:00
York teachers looking for charity with their festive second single

They sneaked into the charts last summer with their World Cup song: now a teacher duo from York are at it again with a tune that they hope will be a challenger for chart supremacy this Christmas.

Robin Parmiter and Ian Wilson, aka Disco Mister, teach at Huntington School in York and reached number 100 for a week in July with their England World Cup single Bring It Home.

The song may not have troubled the top of the charts, but it did win the backing of celebrities such as sports presenter Clare Balding and comedian Jack Whitehall. It even became Amazon's most downloaded song written for the 2014 tournament, beating the likes of Gary Barlow and Gary Lineker's attempt, which was subsequently dropped by the Football Association.

Buoyed by their success, the pair have decided to take on the usual contenders for the Christmas top spot, challenging the X Factor winner's single and the latest release of Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? with their own effort, Everybody Dance (Happy Christmas).

Mr Parmiter, who teaches philosophy, told TES that they had chosen to record the song to raise money for charity and because its success would not depend on the England team's ability on the pitch.

"Unlike England's World Cup glory, we know that Christmas will definitely happen and doesn't rely on the ability of 11 men on a football field," he said. "We love Christmas as a time of year and we thought it would be a great opportunity to raise money."

The video for the duo's World Cup song attracted more than 100,000 views on YouTube. Their latest no-budget effort features Mr Parmiter and Mr Wilson roaming the countryside dressed as a shepherd and a king, respectively. It also references the film Pulp Fiction: the teachers are shown opening a box, the contents of which remain a secret.

"We wanted to capture some of the mystery of Christmas and we also thought it would be a good way to drum up interest and get the community engaged, so there is a #WhatsInTheBox? hashtag," Mr Parmiter said.

All proceeds from the single will go towards building a school in Kenya, a project that is being led by local York business WebCertain. The two-year scheme, overseen by the charity Build Africa, will create a new building for the Mbombo Primary School in the East African country's rural Gilgil region.

Abi Betts, a philanthropy executive at the Kent-based charity, said the money raised by the single would help to renovate two classrooms and build a new nursery.

"The funds will also help to support the livelihoods of the parents by developing small savings and loans in the community. By supporting the parents, it means they will be more likely to send their children to school," Ms Betts said. "We have hundreds of schools such as this across East Africa and it's very important to us that we have people raising money like this."

The teachers' idea for the single was supported by the Association for Citizenship Teaching, the subject body for citizenship, as it showed a willingness to volunteer and engage with the community. But the organisation said the pair could have gone further by involving their pupils in the process and linking it to the citizenship curriculum.

"Had they engaged their students in a series of lessons where they showed the concerns and differences in formal education around the world and in that part of Africa, and then linked it to recording a song to raise money for a school, their worthy cause may have been even more powerful," a spokesman said.


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