Congratulations to The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust who have been nominated in the Charity Champions – Fundraising and Support for Charity Award category. VOTE NOW!
We asked them the following questions.
Tell us more about yourself
The Trust supports piping and drumming tuition in state schools, and encourages the development of schools pipe bands. The Trust believes that pipe bands give pupils access to Scotland’s traditional music and a world of opportunity in both school life and afterwards. Pipe bands help young people develop skills for work, life and learning, such as teamwork, confidence, perseverance, camaraderie and a sense of dress and discipline. The Trust is currently supporting over 2000 young people in Scotland to learn the pipes or drums in over 160 state schools. Opportunities for young people to learn the pipes and drums in Scotland’s state schools are very limited in most local authorities compared to opportunities to learn orchestral instruments. Piping instructors represent just 2% of instrumental posts in 29 local authority areas; and drumming instructors represent just 0.5% of posts. In 2015, 22 local authorities owned less than 10 pipe band instruments each! The Trust also organises the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships, and supports professional development for instructors.
How long has the trust existed?
The Trust was founded in 2007 originally to help re-establish East Lothian as a centre of excellence in piping and drumming by offering free tuition to as many young people as possible. It grew into the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust, a national charity, in 2015.
East Lothian has a long and distinguished piping and drumming tradition. It was once an important mining area and most of the communities could boast a pipe band. As mining declined, some of the bands folded, others transformed into community bands and the county’s piping tradition was under threat. Apart from the mining community, the boys brigades, army cadet forces and scouts also played important roles encouraging and supporting piping and drumming. However, over time, such organisations offered fewer opportunities to learn these instruments with little instruction provided in the county’s state schools to compensate. A small but dedicated number of Pipe Majors and their supporters within the county’s seven pipe bands, kept the tradition of highland piping and
drumming music alive by giving freely of their time and expertise.
The East Lothian Pipes and Drums Trust contributed significantly to this effort from 2007 by setting up tuition programmes covering schools in the Prestonpans and Haddington clusters and community pipe bands throughout East Lothian.
Recognising the wider impacts on pupils’ attainment, on schools and on communities, in 2014 the Trustees announced the intention to widen the charitable purposes of the Trust so that its future remit would cover the whole of Scotland. Having been accepted by The Office of the Charity Regulator (OSCR). The changes came into effect from 1st April 2015 at which time the Trust was constituted as The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT).
What has the trust got planned for the next year?
The Trust will continue to work proactively to develop new schools pipe band programmes, as well as responding to unsolicited applications for support. The Trust will introduce a package of support and funding designed to lead to sustainable programmes in areas where families can afford a modest fee for tuition. Simultaneously the Trust will endeavour to forge partnerships with local authorities and co-funders to introduce programmes to schools clusters, particularly those in remote and/ or deprived areas.
The Trustees recognise that access to instruments is critical and that bagpipes are relatively expensive to purchase. Therefore the Trust will review options for instrument loan and ‘help to buy’ and will launch a new instrument policy accompanied by ring-fenced funding.
In March 2018 SSPDT will host the sixth annual Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.
In October 2017 the Trust will host the second national ‘Schools Pipe Band Programmes: Forum and Workshop’ in partnership with the National Piping Centre. Paid piping and drumming internships, designed to open up progression routes into employment or further education, will be offered from August 2017. The Trust will continue to raise the quality of teaching and learning by sharing and signposting good practice, and by supporting robust recruitment for new posts.
SSPDT will continue to raise awareness of the current lack of opportunity to learn the pipes and drums in Scotland’s state schools compared with other instruments, and to highlight the wider benefits of pipe bands for young people.
What has been the highlight of your journey thus far?
The growth of the Championships into an event that welcomes over seventy bands and ensembles from across Scotland is a big highlight; but equally, the huge numbers of pupils keen to learn the pipes and drums is very rewarding – usually between 120 and 160 pupils in a schools cluster. It is wonderful to see young players transition from drum pads to drums, or from chanter to pipes, and the pride and sense of achievement when they give their first performance.
How does it feel to be nominated in this category?
It is great to be part of a community that celebrates Scotland’s traditional music, and this is an exciting opportunity to let more people know how popular the pipes and drums are, and the lack of opportunities to learn these instruments in most schools.