Current Challenge

Sheffield Cathedral Schools Singing Programme

The social and educational benefits of music in our state schools has prompted Sheffield Cathedral’s music department to introduce a ground-breaking state school singing programme across the Sheffield Diocese.

Funding from the 2024 Master Cutlers’ Challenge will underpin the expansion of the Sheffield Cathedral Schools Singing Programme (SCSSP) and enable state school pupils from across South Yorkshire to develop their musical, social interaction and life skills.

In short, support for the singing programme will have a major impact in the region, especially for underprivileged youngsters who are in desperate need of support, enrichment and encouragement as they go through the most formative years of their lives.

Financial support raised by the Master Cutler’s Challenge will help seed fund local singing programmes for young people to create independent, financially sustainable projects through South Yorkshire’s network of state schools.

The Schools Singing Programme has a proven track record of directly enriching the life experience of state school children, and initial school partnerships were developed in September 2023.

It is recognised as a rewarding and engaging way of supporting the most poor, vulnerable and disenfranchised members of our society and helps to engage diverse communities which have often been an afterthought for high-quality music education.

The programme, which was pioneered by Sheffield Cathedral’s Director of Music Tom Daggett, during his time at St Paul’s in London, is delivered through weekly sessions during the normal school day which are individually tailored to suit each class and year group. Sessions include music spanning 600 years of choral music history, blended with interactive music education games, world and folk songs and secular repertoire. Classes support the national curriculum and enhance educational attainment and progression, which in turn supports a favourable OFSTED assessment.

As well as enhancing the in-school experience of musical education, the SCSSP engages the wider community with concerts and performances that all can enjoy, at the same time instilling confidence and a sense of teamwork among the students.

Funds raised by the Master Cutlers Challenge will allow the expansion of this life changing scheme to reach further and faster.

Why singing?

Singing is uniquely accessible for all kinds of people. It’s a form of music making that offers a whole range of individual and social benefits to both those who are performing and those who are listening. It is a great way to express faith, supports social cohesion, has many mental health benefits and encourages expression, as well as furthering academic attainment.

The model of class-based music education and interaction with wider society offers schools a fantastic opportunity to better support their students and community. Resilience and well-being are increasingly important to schools’ work and the SCSSP is superbly placed to contribute to state education.

Why is it important?

The educational, social, and health benefits of children’s choral singing are well documented.

In areas of the greatest economic deprivation, parents and teachers alike have been delighted at children’s increased confidence, engagement and academic attainment. They’ve seen children’s improvements in literacy, numeracy, teamwork as well as deeper and lasting relationships.  The open-access model of whole-class singing produces demonstrable diversity in take up of after-school choir places. This allows great inclusion for all, unlocking aspirations and broadening horizons across social, academic and cultural divides.

What about the SCSSP curriculum?

The SCSSP draws from true National Schools Singing Programme (NSSP) which has developed a clear and readily deliverable model of whole-class singing.

Drawing on years of experience, reflection and external advice, it provides sessions that really engage students as part of a comprehensive singing curriculum for use in state schools. This combines instruction guidance and clear modules that deliver as much of the music curriculum as possible and provides outstanding, quality-led teaching which is essential for effective music delivery in schools.