Steve Williamson’s Story
Steve Williamson travelled to West and East Africa in 1997 to study and record community singing in order to inspire music projects in the UK.
At the time of his Fellowship, Steve was a young teacher who had worked in a number of central London primary schools. Having developed a passion for leading community singing, he decided to use his Fellowship to travel to Ghana and Tanzania to record a wide range of community songs.
Over seven weeks he explored community music at Accra University and primary schools in the villages of the Ashanti region. Flying across Africa to Tanzania, he then visited communities around Dodoma recording over 15 hours of high quality vocals.
On returning to the UK, Steve submitted the recordings to the National Sound Archive. He also spoke about his Fellowship on a number of lively radio broadcasts for the BBC and regional stations.
Steve published a range of articles in journals describing the visit and making recommendations for developing primary music vocal bands. After refining his own approach, he worked with primary teachers and local churches to set up community singing performances in South East London, and developed composition projects for use in school.
Steve credits the Fellowship with growing his confidence and raising his ambitions, and it led to him dedicating his career to improving education, often in schools which had been failing for some considerable time. A Head Teacher since 2001, Steve has turned around the fortunes of a number of schools based in areas of significant social deprivation. Northern Saints in Sunderland, his current primary, is now one of the top performing schools in the UK.
Steve has continued to promote the arts and cultural heritage in education. Northern Saints frequently works with partners such as the National Glass Centre, the Sage-Gateshead and Beamish Museum to ensure that pupils are submersed in cultural education.