YOUNG people at risk of dropping out of school or leaving with few or no qualifications should perform better in class thanks to a ground-breaking music project.

Bolton St Catherine’s Academy’s “at risk” pupils will take part in a musical programme including song writing and recording.

Manchester-based music charity Brighter Sound has been awarded a grant of £120,000 by the National Foundation for Youth Music to deliver the four year programme for pupils who have been identified as being at risk of educational exclusion, low attainment or disengagement from their education at Bolton’s St Catherine's Academy in Harwood.

Greater Manchester Music Education Hub, of which Bolton is the lead partner, is also involved in the project.

Children will have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, perform as well as well as take part in team-building activities and trips out.

A core group of pupils will be identified to benefit from the project and they will be joined by up to 120 pupils aged 11 to 15 who are eligible for free school meals.

The project was developed following a pilot study by Youth Music which found out-of-school music projects helped develop children personally and socially as well as learning about music.

Abigail Gilmore, chairman of Brighter Sound and director of postgraduate taught programmes at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, at Manchester University, said: “We are so pleased that Youth Music is giving Brighter Sound the opportunity to work in partnership with schools, hubs and experts to develop mutually beneficial music-making and creative activity for pupils at risk of low attainment across Manchester and Greater Manchester.

“Brighter Sound's driving force is our belief in the power of music and creativity, and its ability to educate, empower and inspire young people of all backgrounds.

“We are very excited to be able to develop sustainable music-making activity in schools in a way that provides measurable improvements in young people’s academic, social, musical and creative abilities, as well as their aspirations and achievements.”

Matt Griffiths, executive director, Youth Music added: “We look forward to the results of the research with great excitement as it is the first time such a rigorous study of combined approaches between schools and music providers who normally work in out-of-school settings has been done.

“The results may well turn out to be of enormous significance to0 stimulate fresh thinking in music education.”