Schools, spirituality and a whole lot of singing!

26 NOV 2020

A recurrent grant from Allchurches Trust is supporting Norwich Cathedral to reach out to children across the diocese, helping to enrich their education and giving them the confidence to sing like a cathedral chorister.

Norwich Cathedral prides itself on being a hub for education and learning; it houses both an outstanding historic library and a purpose built education centre for families and young people on the footprint of the original monastic *hostry. This modern facility serves thousands of visiting schoolchildren each year, and is home to Song School which, in more ‘typical’ times, is full of the sound of singing choristers.
The cathedral’s vision is to ‘develop a programme aimed at enabling every school in Norfolk to visit the cathedral at least once during their primary school education’. 
In 2019, an annual grant from Allchurches Trust enabled the Cathedral to organise regular school visits and produce resources for every key stage. These were sent to all schools in Norfolk and the Diocese of Norwich and were closely matched to the national curriculum – to be delivered by staff in the cathedral, at home or at school.
Not only has the cathedral been supporting the students themselves, but they have developed a programme of teacher training activities and inset days to support those on teacher training courses.
Although times have been difficult in light of Coronavirus restrictions, Norwich Cathedral still has big plans for future outreach activities. They will continue to support their schools and family learning programmes, but in addition, they are using Allchurches’ 2020 recurrent grant to focus and grow their music outreach – a note of positivity in challenging times!
Norwich Cathedral Junior Choir
Norwich recently launched a Norwich Cathedral Junior Choir, which is open to all local primary schools on a Saturday morning. It links to the Chorister Outreach Scheme in conjunction with Norwich School. The cathedral’s choristers visit local primary schools to encourage singing in the state sector. Two or three schools each term then get the chance to come and give an informal concert alongside the cathedral choristers.
The Junior Choir has continued during lockdown via online platforms, with one parent commenting: “Since the rehearsal this morning, my daughter has been in the best mood for days, if not weeks!”
The singing doesn’t stop there! As part of Norwich’s outreach programme, they run ‘Be a Chorister For a Day’ – an initiative launched two years ago to encourage local children to come and experience life as chorister in the beauty of the cathedral surroundings.
The Cathedral Choir is also giving three annual visits to parishes within the diocese as part of the musical outreach scheme. They sing a concert or service and encourage music making within that particular parish.
Norwich has found that these activities are all helping to promote a more socially diverse mix of cathedral chorister applicants and generally encouraging more young people to visit and experience the magic of the cathedral.
The cathedral hopes that with the recent funding they can continue to grow their musical outreach programmes through these difficult times, by getting creative and using digital platforms to connect with young people.
Very Reverend Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich, said: “The grant that we receive from Allchurches makes a tremendous difference to what we are able to achieve in our work with children and young people year on year. We are especially grateful to them during this present time for their continuing support as the COVID pandemic has severely affected the number of school visits to the Cathedral and the modest income we receive through those visits.  The money received through the grant to support the work of both our music outreach and our schools work does have a truly transformational effect on the lives of children and young people in Norwich and Norfolk.”
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, added: “It has been a challenging year for many, including cathedrals and churches who, due to social distancing restrictions, have faced obstacles in reaching their communities. We are delighted to support Norwich Cathedral as it continues to make youth outreach a priority even in the most difficult times.” 
Choristers in Norwich Cathedral
*A place to welcome guests of Norwich Cathedral.
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