Cause UK identified and pitched a remarkable story of hope and the transformative power of music to the BBC One Show team. The resulting film was broadcast on 17th June 2019. We worked with Nigel Dixon of the Grimethorpe Colliery and Julie Allen MBE, Headteacher, to inform the pitch and coordinate the project.
2019 marks 35 years since the miners’ strike. The last coal was cut at Grimethorpe Colliery in 1992, and the pit – the lifeblood of the community for almost a century – was demolished in 1994. That same year, a European Union study on deprivation listed Grimethorpe as the poorest village in the country.
But the village refused to die. Part of the rising from the ashes was the success of its brass band, featured in the global-hit film, Brassed Off.
Today, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, with local supporters and funders, have worked tirelessly with ex-miners’ children in the local community to keep the band and its unique heritage alive, and grow new musical talent in the area.
The Grimethorpe Colliery Band have worked with local primary school, Birkwood Primary in Cudworth; one of the most deprived areas of the UK since 2012. The results have been phenomenal.
Since the Grimethorpe Colliery band performed within the school they have inspired 80 school children to go through a formal brass band programme, paying for music exam fees, after-school clubs, and supporting national competitions.
The Grimethorpe Colliery Band paid for a whole class to learn a brass instrument and picked 12 of the most talented students, most of whom struggled with mental health or low self-esteem. Head teacher, Julie Allen, who was awarded an MBE for services to the Arts, said brass band playing has turned young people’s hopes and aspirations around.
Introducing music to school has improved confidence, self-esteem and academic results. Parent engagement has also improved. With three years-worth of support, the school entered the brass band championships last year and came second in the whole of the UK.
- In 2014, the school was under ‘special measures’ by Ofsted but under Julie’s leadership and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band music initiative, the school is now rated as ‘Outstanding’.
- The Grimethorpe inspired pupils are the highest achieving cohort in the history of the school; achieving above national averages in reading, writing, Maths and combined subjects.
- Of the Key Stage 2 results of the original seven children who have continued band playing, 6/7 achieved ‘Greater Depth’ in all subjects – most considered high achievers.
A brighter future is now evident in the pupils who demonstrably want to continue their passion for brass band playing as they transition to secondary school (Outwood Academy, Barnsley). They have ambitions to travel and take part in competitions around the world, with some keen to apply for the Northern College of Music.
The BBC One Show film featured
- Julie Allen MBE, Headteacher
- Elizabeth Iacobescu and Marcus Rowbottom (Year 7 pupils)
Stars on the sofa, including director/writer Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis, shared stories of their own music playing and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band’s key role in Boyle’s Olympic Games celebrations.