UB40 ’emotional’ after visiting primary school in Birmingham where their music is actually part of the curriculum
You probably never thought you’d see the day where UB40 made it onto the school curriculum – but that day is here!
The hit-makers have been visiting a school to hear how the band’s repertoire is now part of the curriculum for its music-loving pupils.
About 400 pupils from St Edward’s Catholic Primary School in Selly Park, Birmingham, took part in a special assembly, all about the band, on Monday (February 27).
The reggae pop group’s discography has been taught as part of the pupils’ oracy education – teaching youngsters how to express themselves grammatically and with fluency – and involved Year One to Year Six performing renditions of some of the group’s most commercially successful hits.
UB40’s current line-up – consisting of Robin Campbell, Earl Falconer, Norman Hassan, Jimmy Brown, and lead singer Matt Doyle – all attended, describing it as a ‘phenomenal’ experience.
Campbell, among the founder members of band which has never shied away from being political, also said ‘it would be really good if we get into the politics with the kids as well.’
During a morning assembly in front of the group, children reeled off all the facts they had learned about UB40, including when the group formed, and how many top 10 hits they achieved.
The pupils told how they had also learned how the band’s name had come from the unemployment form of the same name.
A mock news report by a Year 6 pupil told how the musicians were famed for ‘crowd-pleasing songs including Red Red Wine, One in Ten and Kingston Town’, and were known globally, having sold 70million records.
Year 4 had the group’s heads bobbing along as they sang Higher Ground, also signing the words to the lyrics.
In a question from one of the pupils about where the band would be in five years, Campbell joked ‘in a nursing home’, before adding: ‘We’ll carry on until we drop.’
He told how the line-up was always changing, and how his brother Ali Campbell left the band 15 years ago, while fellow original members saxophonist Brian Travers and Astro had died.
Among the audience of pupils was 11-year-old Olha Tartasiuk, from Kyiv, Ukraine, who only came to the UK 10 months ago, but whose family already knew UB40 songs.
She said: ‘I am so happy, when I told my dad I was meeting UB40 he said, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it.”
‘My dad knows their music, my mum knows their music, it’s really good.’
Jess McDonald, a class teacher, oracy lead and self-confessed ‘massive fan’ of the group, said: ‘We believe in a broad and balanced curriculum with a holistic approach.
‘Our children come from diverse backgrounds, different cultures and religions and we feel UB40, being from Birmingham, and reflecting that diversity – the children can really relate to them.’
She said the pupils can look to the band for inspiration and think: ‘You know what, that can be me.’
The teacher added that the band’s music had quite literally brought the family of one of the pupils – who had been having a tough time – closer together, ‘singing their songs in the car on the way to school.’
Following their visit to the school, founder members, drummer Jimmy Brown and guitarist Robin Campbell, said the day had been ’emotional.’
Campbell said he ‘never thought’ their music would be part of a curriculum at a school, and was particularly moved when the kids sang Higher Ground, because it always reminds him of the writer Brian Travers, who has died.
‘It would have moved him. It moved me.’
Brown declared: ‘We’re the luckiest people in the world,’ while Campbell said the band is ‘very much aware’ that they are ‘a product of Birmingham.’
‘Our particular hybrid of reggae is unique to us – but it only exists because we come from Birmingham.’
First appear at UB40 ’emotional’ after visiting primary school in Birmingham where their music is actually part of the curriculum