Pupils become stars of Christmas advert

Primary school pupils in Leeds have become unexpected television stars, providing the backing vocals for the Sainsbury's Christmas advert.

The group of students, from the Music Federation made up of two schools in Hunslet and Belle Isle, had been approached a few weeks ago about options for choral support.

The schools have unique musical curriculum and partner with local organisations including Class Dynamix and Opera North.

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Working with Class Dynamix, one school – Windmill Primary – quickly put together a team and spent the day in a recording studio laying down backing tracks.

Pupils from Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle features in the new Sainsbury's Christmas advert.

“It was a top secret project, but we knew it was an opportunity that we couldn’t miss,” said executive headteacher Andy Gamble. “While they’re not pictured in the advert, the vocals behind it are from the Music Federation children. It was a brilliant opportunity. It gives the children that sense of a stage that they wouldn’t normally have.

“We showed it in assembly – and their faces were amazing. They were absolutely stunned.”

The Music Federation, formed in 2007, sees every child at Windmill and Low Road primaries play a musical instrument, as well as receiving professional choral tuition.

Students have performed at prestigious venues including as Leeds Town Hall, Ripon Cathedral and the Southbank Centre in London.

The pupils landed a role in the advert after Class Dynamix told producers about its work with Windmill Primary.

The two schools, visited by Ofsted within five months of one another, are judged as Good, and Mr Gamble believes their musical curriculum is impacting on the students’ overall learning experience.

It’s unusual, he adds, for an inner-city state school to partner with such influential musical groups, and the children are feeling the benefit.

“These skills, that they are developing, will serve them through their lives,” he said. “This gives them, not just a technical skill, but skills in the arts that are so desperately needed in schools. It really does impact, on self esteem, confidence, and that cascades into the core subjects.”

It was a result of this strong focus on music that Class Dynamix recommended Windmill Primary’s pupils to the producers of the advert.

Danny Gough, who founded the Leeds-based business, said: “I write songs and deliver music workshops in schools that inspire young people.

“I was approached to provide and direct the children for the choir to feature on the advert.

“We used 14 children from our Gold Partnership school in Leeds, Windmill Primary – and their voices are now being heard by millions across the globe.”