Mersey Primary School cites Festival as a major factor in Ofsted report success.
The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is famous throughout the world for its colour, spectacle and exuberance but in addition to its reputation for melting down cultural barriers and in presenting the very best of the world’s singers and performers the Festival also aims to encourage a more general sense of harmony within communities, both nationally and internationally.
St Matthew’s Primary School in Liverpool has just gained ‘Overall Effectiveness Outstanding’ in its Ofsted report and the school was especially praised for its creative involvement in community cohesion events and cultural development. The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is proud to have been cited directly in the Inspectors’ letter as a major contributory factor in the school’s achievements.
“The International Eisteddfod has greatly helped our pupils to develop their understanding of people from other cultures, through their music and dance” says St Matthew’s Headteacher, Veronica McDonnell, “This was acknowledged in our recent Ofsted Inspection when we were awarded Outstanding for overall effectiveness. Our strong Community Cohesion work was also rated outstanding with the International Eisteddfod contributing to our international links”.
“We have been coming to Llangollen for the past four years”, says Donna Jones, Senior Teacher and Music Coordinator at St Matthew’s Primary School whose been involved along with Mrs Letitia Wilkins, Deputy Headteacher. “We have attended once on Children’s Day, once on Song and Dance Day- where we saw HRH Prince Charles!- and we have also competed in the Junior Children’s Choirs competition and taken part in the inclusive ‘All the World, One Smile’ project in 2009”.
As a direct result of their visits to the Llangollen Festival St Matthew’s Primary School has made strong cultural connections with children and schools from other countries throughout the world and, this year, the school hopes to forge specific links with both India and Hong Kong. Mrs McDonnell explains “Our pupils have benefited socially, emotionally and spiritually through their participation in this wonderful annual event. They have had the opportunity to meet and forge on-going links with children from India and China. What a wonderful way of helping children to experience first hand the cultural diversity and unity of people from all corners of the world”.
Veronica McDonnell continues to explain “Our own pupils come from a wide variety of different backgrounds, and abilities and so for us, having a wonderful event like Llangollen on our doorstep is so important. We have a wealth of talent, enthusiasm and spirituality, and the Eisteddfod helps us to develop this”.
The children of St Matthews Primary School have fond memories of their previous visits to Llangollen Festival:
“I love going to Eisteddfod. You see people from all over the world wearing such beautiful colourful costumes.” Ying Yu Fang aged 10.
“I enjoyed watching the Chechnyan dancers. They were so fit and strong. Even the tiniest children could kick their legs so high. They made us feel so excited.” Paige Lancaster aged 10.
“Our school choir felt so proud when we sang on the main stage at the Eisteddfod. We competed against children who came from as far as China. It was great.” Katie Jones aged 10.
“I couldn’t believe I saw Prince Charles at the International Eisteddfod. The golden Harp was shining so brightly on the stage. We waved at Prince Charles and he waved back at us.” Jack Bradley.
Llangollen Festival’s Chief Executive Mervyn Cousins is delighted that the event is having such a positive effect in schools and in the community as a whole. “It is great to hear once again that the international reach of Llangollen has such a positive effect on young people”, he says. “We naturally believe that what we can offer to schools and families is special and it is wonderful to know that this experience has a legacy beyond their actual attendance at the festival. I am also delighted personally, as before coming to work in Llangollen I worked in Liverpool and I know what brilliant work is done in schools there”.
The City of Liverpool is often cited as being the ‘capital city of North Wales’ and the connections between the Mersey and the Dee appear to be as strong as ever in 2010 because, this year, in addition to welcoming a choir from St Matthews Primary School, Liverpool will also be represented in this year’s Eisteddfod by the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir.
Some tickets are still available for this year’s Children’s Day (Primary Schools, Tuesday 6 July), and for Youth Day (Secondary schools and colleges) and, because of the continuing high demand for these tickets, Llangollen is also offering school packages, including workshops from performers from all over the world, on the other days of the festival week.
“Culturally and geographically we are not far away from Liverpool”, says Mervyn Cousins, “and, of course, the continuing and enduring philosophy of Llangollen is that the rest of the world is also much closer to us than we think!”