Loyalist bands can play important education role

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Loyalist bands in Londonderry have shown their determination to address educational underachievement among poorer boys in their own communities by hosting the Principal of the city’s main Protestant secondary school, who told them they have a major role to play in pointing our young people in the right direction.

Lisneal College Principal Michael Allen addressed a meeting of the Londonderry Bands Forum in St Columb’s Park House, which was convened to address underachievement and lack of progression, particularly, though not exclusively, among working class Protestant boys.

He believes Protestant band leaders are important role models that command respect and can inspire in their younger band mates a better perspective on the importance of education.

Mr Allen said: “Young people from the band sector look to and respect the leadership within the band community. They look to them for guidance and as role models. This bond can serve as an essential link between young people and their approach to education.”

He said: “The commitment and effort young people bring to learning complex musical routines and marching techniques to perform with bands showed that they have the ability to learn and they could and should be encouraged to apply this when in school.”

Mr Allen has already been vocal about his determination to tackle the problem head-on.

Last October he told the Sentinel he was tired of the same dismaying statistics being repeated about poorer Protestant boys suffering persistently lower levels of educational attainment.

He vowed he wasn’t about to let this become a self-fulfilling prophecy on his watch.

Having already achieved impressive results at Lisneal College, the collaboration with the Bands Forum, will hopefully further address the matter extracurricularly.

“[Band members] are the very role models who can encourage younger band members in seeing that education is the key to their future and that it is ‘cool’ to work hard at school,” said Mr Allen.

Turn to Page 30.