Commenting following the event on Friday 8 December, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Peter Edgar, said: “This has been 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 this includes to those who need extra support to perform.”
The annual event, organised by Hampshire County Council’s Music Service, re-tells the nativity story with a modern twist - combining traditional Christmas carols with modern songs as well as readings by the schoolchildren.
This year’s service began with a procession of banners representing all the schools taking part. School children were dressed as angels, innkeepers, shepherds and kings.
Music was provided by the Baycroft School Brass Band, the Hampshire County Junior Choir and soloist Connor Bates on keyboard. Connor is a Hampshire Music Service Hub Scholar, which means he receives specialist training, funded by an award for young people who have demonstrated high levels of musical ability.
Pupils from Shakespeare Junior School in Eastleigh sang and signed to ‘Child in a Manger born’. Mr Jolly the donkey, from Kiln Farm Riding School, also supported the Christmas storytelling, with his handler Wendy Carter.
Participating schools included:
- The Waterloo School, Waterlooville
- Heathfield School, Fareham
- Icknield School, Andover
- Liss Junior School, Liss
- Shakespeare Junior School, Eastleigh
- Henry Tyndale School, Farnborough
- St Francis Special School, Fareham
- Shepherds Down Special School, Compton
- Glenwood School, Emsworth
- Rachel Madocks School, Waterlooville
- Maple Ridge School, Basingstoke
- Forest Park School, Totton
- Norman Gate School, Andover
- Medina House School, Isle of Wight
- Hollywater School, Bordon