EAGA Workshops
The Samworth Enterprise Academy and Emmmanu’-EL Apostolic Gospel Academy (EAGA): African Drumming and Dance, Cultural Awareness

In the spring of 2009, EAGA got an opportunity to work in partnership with Samworth Academy Enterprise, through Brother Jim Marshall who was a member of the choir, and one of the Vice Principals of Samworth Academy Enterprise.

Samworth Academy Enterprise was Leicester’s first ever academy school and was built at a cost of £20 million on the sight of the Mary Linwood School. It replaces not only a failing school, but the traditional primary and secondary approach to education. It is a culturally diverse school, serving the multicultural community of Eyres Monsell and Saffron Lane. The ethos of the school is firmly based on Christian values of caring for, and considering other people. The academy opened in 2007 and accepts and respects children of all religious faiths and beliefs.

In order to develop, foster and maintain an atmosphere of cultural understanding at the school and in the local community the school decided to have a series of workshops that involved African drumming and dance. A group of pupils was selected to represent the rest of the school, in organising this cultural experience for the school. EAGA was one of a few organisations that had the capacity to run such workshops and were chosen to deliver the program.

On the first day the workshops were attended by about 350 pupils who really enjoyed the drumming and dancing. The teachers who came along, some just out of curiosity to see what was happening could not help but join in and this included the Head Teacher.

The workshop program of African dance and drumming was rolled out to the entire school over 4 days. The response from the pupils was overwhelming and they requested that the school set up an EAGA drumming and dancing after school club. The request was then ratified by the school management and so began the partnership between EAGA and Samworth Academy Enterprise.

The workshop is now a success with approximately 20 committed pupils attending every session each week. These pupils have excelled to such a high level that they have performed together with the EAGA Children’s Choir at events such as the EAGA Praise Night and Family Fellowship evenings, both held at De Montfort University and have also won awards. In February 2010, the pupils went to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester to compete in the BBC Choir of the Year Competition. The EAGA children's choir are aged 0 – 18. The 6 – 11 year olds were selected from the choir to compete in the youth category. The children’s choir had a very limited amount of time to prepare and only managed to have a few joint rehearsals. The category they were in was extremely competitive and on the day they put in a tremendously brave performance. The judges were impressed, however all of the choirs that competed were of a very high standard and unfortunately the children’s choir did not make it through to the next round of the competition. The children all enjoyed themselves and gained much from their first experience, which will set them in good stead for future competitions.

Another event that the Samworth pupils together with the EAGA Children’s Choir attended was a community fun day at the Aylestone Leisure Centre on Saffron Lane. They performed at two intervals on stage before an audience of parents and members of the local community.

In terms of promoting Equality and Diversity and Christian values the Samworth EAGA partnership is truly a success story…