Hampshire special school pupils bring Christmas cheer to Winchester Cathedral


More than 230 children from 16 Hampshire special schools, and schools with special units, have gathered for a festive musical celebration at Winchester Cathedral, organised by Hampshire County Council’s Music Service.

Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Peter Edgar, said: ‘This is a real highlight for our special schools and units around the county, and particularly for the children involved.

‘The excitement among the children and young people was clearly evident, and a joy to see.

‘It demonstrates that having special educational needs doesn’t need to be a barrier to performing in front of a wide audience, in a famous venue.

‘Our school children across the county have access to a variety of musical learning experiences, through our music service, and those who need extra support to perform, are no exception.#

The uplifting event that took place on Friday 2 December re-told the nativity story with a modern twist – combining traditional Christmas carols with modern songs, as well as readings by the school children. A procession, featuring banners representing all the schools taking part, started off proceedings, and children and helpers, dressed as angels, carried candles to the altar. The service included themed sections bringing the nativity to life, with children taking part dressed as innkeepers, shepherds and kings, with support roles from real miniature donkeys, Max and Ruby, loaned by Longdown Activity Farm.

Music was provided by the Baycroft School Brass Band, the Hampshire County Junior Choir and soloist Connor Bates from Year 11 at Osborne School in Winchester, on Cello. Connor’s musical talent has been recognised this year by Hampshire Music Hub, with the award of a scholarship, providing him with specialist individual teaching.

The following schools took part; some are special schools and some are mainstream schools with a special unit:

  • Forest Park School – Totton
  • Glenwood School – Emsworth
  • Heathfield School – Fareham
  • Henry Tyndale School – Farnborough
  • Hollywater School – Bordon
  • Kings Copse Primary School – Hedge End
  • Liss Junior School – Liss
  • Maple Ridge School – Basingstoke
  • Medina House Special School – Newport, Isle of White
  • Norman Gate School – Andover
  • Oak Lodge School – Dibden Purlieu
  • Rachel Madocks School – Waterlooville
  • Shakespeare Junior School – Eastleigh
  • Shepherds Down School – Compton, Winchester
  • St Francis Special School – Fareham
  • The Waterloo School – Waterlooville

Many of Hampshire Music Service’s ensembles around the county are holding Christmas concerts, and some have arranged busking sessions in Christmas markets and town centres. To see a list of events, please visit: www.hants.gov.uk/ensemble-news-events where a list is available on the right hand side of the page.