The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

Schools Singing Programme Praised in Parliament!

The National Schools Singing Programme (NSSP), developed here in the Diocese of Leeds and now rolled out to most of the UK’s Catholic dioceses and some Church of England Cathedrals, has been given high praise in the House of Lords!

Last Thursday’s debate was about the contribution of the arts to the economy and to society. The Lord Bishop of St Albans celebrated the NSSP and the approach of seed-corn funding to bring about sector-wide change, saying:

‘…I find it deeply sad that many young people do not have the access to artistic expression or musical education in their communities, homes, or, sadly sometimes, even in their schools.

As I go around the communities in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, I note that, in many villages, the only place with any communal singing left is the church; what was once a bigger part of communal life is dwindling. But the music and arts are not just for professionals: they should be accessible to all, and this really matters. I have spoken before in this Chamber about how many of the UK’s composers, including Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Howells, Taverner and Rutter began their musical careers because they were caught up in local music making in their churches. Without this opportunity, many of them might never have touched the artistic part of their lives and developed their skills…

…The National Schools Singing Programme, run by the Roman Catholic Church, has already expanded into 27 of Britain’s 32 Catholic dioceses, reaching more than 17,000 children in 175 schools. None of this is funded by the state, but, in some limited cases, all that is needed to get it going is some limited seed-corn funding. Yet, in the face of financial pressures, those very modest amounts of money have been renewed, which has enabled people to get going; it has given them a life experience of the joy of music and art and set them off in a career that has been such a blessing to many people.

So my question to the Minister is: will His Majesty’s Government take a fresh look to ensure that we do not just fund flagship arts projects but have modest amounts of money to release the arts among a much wider group of people in our nation?’

Thank you and ‘Hear, Hear’ to that, Bishop Alan!

To find out more about the National Schools Singing Programme, visit the website:

… and for more information about our own Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme, visit the Diocese of Leeds website:


Christ the King Catholic Primary School in Bramley

St Wilfrid’s Catholic Primary in Ripon