A POOLE junior school has been judged to have the best school music department in the country.

Baden-Powell and St Peter’s C of E Junior School won the accolade, beating secondary schools to take home the trophy as the best school music department in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence 2014.

Head of music Lucy Johnstone-McCarthy said: “It’s pretty overwhelming really.”

Each of the 740 pupils gets the chance to sing and try a range of instruments and the school buzzes with music from steelpan bands to percussion, jazz to choirs.

Praising the staff and supportive senior management team, Lucy said: “They give you the freedom and support in doing just so many amazing projects.”

She said music exams and public performances were encouraged throughout the school. Every child performs every year onstage in the annual Christmas concert at Lighthouse and every two years a major musical production is staged, this year’s being Fame.

As well as a school choir, Lucy runs a community choir called Unity, which has 80 members aged from seven to 80 and was started in 2008.

She said the response to the award had been beyond her expectations and she looked forward to working with other schools and sharing expertise.

The school was nominated by Dan Somogyi, director of SoundStorm music development agency, who said it “constantly punches above its weight”.

He said: “Lucy is a dynamo of enthusiasm, musical skill and energy, nurturing an enthusiasm and loyalty in students that sees many return to help out years after they have left the school.”

The judges commented: “The school’s wide and ambitious music programme has rightly achieved Artsmark Gold status, and the enthusiasm and pride of its pupils spoke volumes in support of its application.”