East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has taken Chancellor George Osborne to task over extra-curricular activities in schools.
In his recent budget Mr Osborne announced £350m to enable schools to stay open an extra hour each day in order to enhance children’s educational experience. The day after the Chancellor’s statement, Mr Wilson attended Linn Primary School’s musical, The Lion King – a production which benefitted from many additional hours on the part of staff and pupils.
Mr Wilson added that local schools are already putting the extra hours in to ensure after-school activities are a success.
He said: “Whilst the additional money is welcome the fact is that in schools all over the country teachers give up their time out of school hours to provide opportunities for children, widen their horizons and stretch them to achieve things they didn’t believe they could ever do. Training the brass ensemble to play the opening song note perfect, assembling and making scores of colourful costumes, rehearsing songs, dances and lines until they are polished for public performance. As well as motivating children to work through the drudgery of private practice until they get onto the stage all requires skill and patience.
“Of course a show like this does not only depend on work in school it also involved practise at home.
“Some parents told me they had been subjected to recording of the Lion King in the house and the car as children took every opportunity to listen to the songs and learn them perfectly, even if at the end some of the African words had a local Larne flavour to them.s
“Often we hear of all the problems faced in education and the shortfallings of schools, yet in when I attend the many school organised events which occur across East Antrim, it irritates me that the great work carried on by teachers and the immense potential of our young people is so often overlooked by the media, who seem fixated with reporting negative stories rather than the great amount of positive work that goes on across Northern Ireland.”
Speaking about the play itself, Mr Wilson added: “Nearly one hundred children were involved as was every staff member.
“The hall was packed for the final show two hour, the third in two days a daunting schedule for anyone let alone children from seven to eleven years of age.
“They had been practising mostly after school and on Saturday mornings for the last twelve weeks for what was an ambitious project.
“The teachers and parents had so much to be proud of.”
See more pictures of The Lion King at Linn Primary on Page 23.