Pupils from Spring Lane Primary School, Northampton sitting in the school playground.
Pupils from Spring Lane Primary School, Northampton, one of six schools that participated in the folk song writing project © Spring Lane Primary School
Pupils from Spring Lane Primary School, Northampton, one of six schools that participated in the folk song writing project © Spring Lane Primary School

School Children Create New Folk Songs Inspired by Local Heritage

Historic England and multi-award-winning folk group, The Young‘uns, have been collaborating with six schools in Buckingham, Northampton and Milton Keynes on a project to create a series of new folk songs inspired by each of the towns’ rich history. 

Pupils from schools in the Campfire Education Trust have worked with three-time Radio 2 Folk Award winners, The Young‘uns, to compose, perform and record their own songs, based on their local heritage. Inspiration came from many places, with the themes of the songs ranging from Buckingham’s lacemaking tradition and the legend of an ancient well, to the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675. 

The six schools each participated in online songwriting workshops with the folk trio, who have combined educational work with a successful international touring career over the last decade. 

The participating schools are: Bourton Meadow, George Grenville and Lace Hill Academies in Buckingham; Lumbertubs and Spring Lane Primary Schools in Northampton and Moorland Primary in Milton Keynes.  

We discovered folk songs and their transformative power by accident in a pub when we were teenagers. They gave us a proud, outward looking, inclusive and creative identity. We thought: 'why didn't anyone teach us these songs when we were at school?’ It's been part of our mission ever since to share and create songs that celebrate heritage and community in fun creative ways with as many young people as possible.

Sean Cooney The Young'uns

Ahead of these workshops, Kate Argyle from Historic England’s Heritage Schools Programme worked with teachers from the schools to identify themes and subjects for the new compositions.

She provided training around discovering local heritage, enabling each school to choose the focus for their song, as well as helping the children to learn more about their local area.

All schools taking part in the project have received a national Heritage Schools Award, which is given to schools by Historic England that have successfully supported pupils to better understand their local heritage and its importance.

This has been a fantastic opportunity for the children to create a unique song inspired by their local heritage with one of the county’s leading folk groups. Local heritage is a fabulous source of inspiration across the curriculum and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to work with staff, equipping them with a wealth of local heritage resources to inspire learning and creativity in the future.

The fact that this project succeeded in the face of the lockdowns and disruption of the past year is a testament to the resilience and determination of the schools to give their students the best experiences.

Kate Argyle, Local Heritage Education Manager Historic England

A virtual celebratory concert was held on Monday 12 July 2021, where the children, staff and invited guests heard The Young’uns perform the new songs along with one specially commissioned for the whole Campfire Trust.

The folk song project was conceived and organised by education consultant and folk music enthusiast Karin Horowitz.

It’s a joy to have brought the amazing work the Young’uns in schools together with the treasure trove of heritage material Historic England has provided. This project has given a great boost to the well-being of both children and staff.

Karin Horowitz, Education Consultant

Campfire Education Trust has been delighted to be able to have its schools take part in such an interesting project that has combined history and music. The children and staff in all our schools have learnt so much about their local areas and having the opportunity to compose a song has been a lot of fun. We are so glad to be able to share the excellent results of the project with a wider audience.

Sarah Conant, Chief Executive Officer Campfire Education Trust

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