Diocesan Schools Singing Programme

The diocesan Schools SingingProgramme (SSP) aims to enrich existing provision across participating diocesan schools by offering world-class, inclusive music programmes which transform students’ musical education.

Schools Singing Programme (SSP)

Music has a central role within the Diocese, with significant numbers of children and young people actively involved in school and church choirs. The diocesan Schools Singing Programme (SSP) aims to enrich existing provision across participating diocesan schools by offering world-class, inclusive music programmes which transform students’ musical education.

The Diocese launched its Schools Singing Programme in 2023, inspired by the model originally developed by the Diocese of Leeds. Through the SSP, the Diocese is able to deliver outstanding singing tuition, music education and performance opportunities to children and young people attending state primary schools in Sussex and Surrey, with expert guidance and tuition provided by two full time Choral Directors, Fraser Ellson and Faye Eldret. Our Choral Directors are line managed by the Director of the diocesan Education Service, who oversee the SSP to ensure the sustainability and impact of the project.

“I am delighted that our diocese is offering the Schools Singing Programme. The
scheme provides important opportunities for evangelisation, together with formation
of young people in liturgical music, assisting their journey to becoming disciples in
the fullest sense.”

Bishop Richard

School-Day Singing

The Schools Singing Programme aims to support schools’ existing National Curriculum music provision, aided and guided by a range of bespoke resources created specifically for singing provision in Catholic primary education. SSP music sessions are led by our Choral Directors, who deliver high-quality school singing sessions, as well as directing and coaching after-school choirs. The core work of the Schools Singing Programme takes place during the school day with whole-class singing that includes both sacred and secular music and repertoire. Sessions usually run for 30 minutes with ample time to ‘warm-up’, before the class looks at one to three songs per session, exploring a piece of sacred music such as gospel spiritual, a hymn, carol or a piece of plainchant. Groups also explore a non-sacred work and incorporate both classical and contemporary works into the programme.

An important element of the SSP centres on enthusing children with repertoire. Both diocesan Choral Directors have expertise in specific fields of choral music and can incorporate repertoire that the school would like to become part of their standard worship, such as Mass settings and hymns specific to a festival or feast day. The important mix of warm-ups and sacred and secular repertoire leads to an engaging, exciting session that keep the class active throughout. Once the SSP is embedded in schools, there will be opportunities to take choirs into the parishes for Sunday masses.

Sussex Choral Director, Faye Eldret

Faye is a professional soprano with extensive experience working as a soloist with choral societies, teaching in schools, and leading choirs and large-scale choral projects. Faye started her musical journey singing in a junior choir and playing in a church band, both of which gave her purpose and strengthened her faith and sense of belonging. Speaking about her role as the diocesan Choral Director for Sussex, Faye said: “I feel passionately about the importance of singing and music for young people. Teaching children vocal techniques and the musicality to sing together as one glorious voice is incredibly rewarding, with after-school choirs further developing children’s life in the Church and contributing to liturgical music in their parishes and schools. I am thrilled that the Schools Singing Programme is bringing the beauty and joy of the choral tradition to a wider audience.”

Fraser Ellson, SSP Choral Director for Surrey

Fraser read music at Nottingham University, holds a Tenor Lay Clerkship at Guildford Cathedral, and has significant experience composing and transcribing musical scores. Speaking about his diocesan role, Fraser said “I am overjoyed to be working with schools as SSP Choral Director for Surrey. I work closely with members of the diocesan Education Service and school leadership teams to provide opportunities for pupils to perform and contribute to liturgy in school and in the wider community – as well as exploring the possibility of students participating in national singing projects. The Schools Singing Programme is both varied and hugely rewarding - we might begin a session learning a hymn and finish with an energetic song about mangoes, kiwis and pineapples! The SSP offers a fantastic opportunity for diocesan primary school pupils to experience the wonderful impact of music making while having huge fun.”

To find out more about launching the Schools Singing Programme in your school please contact the Director of the Education Service, Julie Oldroyd;