A scheme to help young people get back on track in the classroom through music has been hailed a big success after its first year.
Hartlepool Borough Council secured £120,000 from charity Youth Music to run the Exchanging Notes project over four years.
It is targeted at young people who are at risk of low attainment, disengagement or exclusion from mainstream school.
A total of 70 youngsters have taken part in the project in its first year and put on two performances in the community.
Project co-ordinator Tim Coyte told a meeting of the council’s Children’s Services Committee: “The feedback we have had from youngsters is that taking part in music is helping them to work with other people and helping them to concentrate in school.”
It takes place in the inclusion units at High Tunstall College of Science, Manor Community Academy and English Martyrs as well as the Hartlepool Pupil Referral Unit.
Members of the project have also made three recordings and 14 of the young people have achieved a Bronze Arts Award.
One of the project’s participants said: “The music is definitely helping me.
“It’s helped with focusing and listening.
“I’ve been getting better in science and English since I started the music project.”
And a teacher added: “They’ve increased confidence, have better listening and concentration skills.
“They have also improved their social skills and are more able to work in larger groups.”
Michael Lee, who retired from English Martyrs School in the summer, commended Tim for the project, which he said was “excellent”.
Over the next school year, project leaders plan to build on the success of its first year by enabling more young people to take part in community projects and all get the chance to record and perform music.
Councillor Chris Simmons, chair of the Children’s Services Committee, said: “Music does have that ability to engage young people.
“I’m delighted it has been such a success.”