A primary school added UB40 to its curriculum – and pupils performed to the global reggae stars at a special assembly last week.
Teachers at St Edward’s Catholic Primary School in Selly Park, Birmingham, tasked pupils with studying the band and its place in popular culture as part of lessons.
They hoped it would help the children understand culture, identity, and community.
And 400 kids from Reception class up to Year 6 presented their research and sang a selection of the seminal group’s hits including Higher Ground, X and Can’t Help Falling in Love at the assembly on Monday.
Robin Campbell, founding member of the band, said: “When we first started out making music over 45 years ago, we could never have imagined that we’d be part of a school curriculum – it’s a bit surreal, it’s very flattering – it’s a wonderful thing. It’s great that the kids are getting to study this kind of subject.
“Our sponsors Roland are going to be supplying instruments and equipment to the school who don’t have the funding that they used to have, and we’re also going to be initiating an award for the child that progresses the most within music – they’ll get the UB40 award every year.”
In return, the band provided music equipment to the school, provided by electronic instrument brand Roland, and offered a legacy award for outstanding pupils over the coming years.
UB40 were formed in Birmingham in December 1978 and had more than 50 singles in the UK Singles Chart.
Natalie Carry, Deputy Headteacher at the school, said: “It was an absolute privilege to welcome the band members today. A lovely group of people, they were so humble and so appreciative of the children’s work.
“Our children have all worked so hard on this project, learning about the music, lyrics, and history of UB40 and learning from their example as a diverse band from Birmingham.
“To have an authentic audience – the actual band – to perform to was just the icing on the cake. Truly a day that every child and staff member will remember forever.”
Teacher Jess McDonald, who introduced the band to the school’s curriculum, spoke of her delight at the band supporting the special assembly, saying: “As a teacher there are so many surprises in store however this was by far the biggest one and the highlight of my career to date. For the children to be learning about a local Brummie band who then came along to the school was just phenomenal.
“At St Edwards we strive for a broad, rich and balanced curriculum; so, the children have not just focussed on the music of UB40, but the lyrics, the art – we’ve stretched the topics across the whole curriculum.”
With more than 100 million albums sold worldwide, 50 UK Top 40 singles and 10 UK Top 10 albums, UB40 are the most decorated and successful Reggae group of all time.
Formed in Birmingham in 1978, they proudly wore their working-class roots on their sleeves, championing causes and concerns on songs that tackled political and social issues head-on.
Capturing the hearts, minds, and dancing feet of disaffected British youth, that loyal audience has grown and evolved with them over the past 45 years, thanks to the power and importance of music that continues to resonate today as they fly the flag for the many.