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Northbrook College’s S’koolfest celebrates young musicians across region

19 June 2024

The community rocked out at this year’s S’koolfest – a musical showcase of talent, hosted by Northbrook College at Worthing Pavilion Theatre.

An annual celebration of music and creativity shines a light on young talent in the local area and provides an opportunity for emerging artists to take centre stage.

An audience of 372 people came together earlier this month to watch 22 acts performing rock, pop, indie, brass, jazz, and rap on the same stage that Jimi Hendrix performed on back in 1967.

Since the first S’koolFest in 2010, organised by Mike Pailthorpe a music lecturer at Northbrook, the event has evolved into a space for local young people to build confidence performing while fostering a sense of community amongst local aspiring musicians and the organisations they are from.

S’koolfest 2024 welcomed performances from young people from Northbrook College, Hawk Sounds, Varndean School, Shoreham Allstars, Bohunt School, Imberhorne School, Worthing College, Our Lady of Sion, Oscar Romero, Oak Grove and Worthing High School, as well as some independent acts.

In total, there were 77 performers who entertained on guitar, drums, saxophone, vocals, and much more.

Norman Murchie, UniConnect Programme Co-ordinator, organised this year’s event and said: “S’koolfest continues to bring together not only the local musical education community but also the wider community in general in support of the arts and the musical stars of the future!!” 

Following the event all the young people are invited to Northbrook College’s industry standard music studios. This provides them not just with an opportunity to perform on stage, but also the chance to record their music to a professional standard supported by our university-level students.  

Mike Pailthorpe, who teaches the degree-level music courses at Northbrook College, added: “Since 2010, we’ve been proud, excited, and continually amazed by the quality of performance and musical talent that comes out of Worthing and this part of Sussex.

“S’koolFest started as a way to give our own Live Sound students an opportunity to engineer some gigs, but quickly became a unique festival a true celebration of school age music talent in Sussex.

“It’s not a battle of the bands, but more a chance for more than 20 of our local schools’ best talent to play their best song with top level sound and lighting in front of a happy, supportive audience. Alumni of S’koolFest make music all around the world in different ways, and we are delighted that some of them join our Music and Theatre courses at Northbrook.

“This year might very well have been the best quality, best attended show we have run.

S’koolFest is always my favourite gig of the year.”

S’koolfest 2024 is supported by Northbrook’s team of Student Ambassadors from the college’s prop making, music production, theatre and fashion courses.

The students worked alongside WPT theatre technicians and front of house team as stagehands, sound technicians, stewards, and workshop facilitators. Two recent Northbrook graduates and alumni returned to help keep the event on track as Event Managers. A special mention must go out to Mae Fischer, who has volunteered her time for the second year in a row to compere the event.

S’koolfest continues to provide an excellent way for students at Northbrook to get hands on experience in the world of event production, planning and management.

Emily Sapsed, Alumni Student Ambassador, said: “Just wanted to say a massive thank you for all the hard work you put into S’koolFest… It’s truly been a pleasure to be involved again, it felt like I never left.”
The Chichester College Group’s Widening Participation team, particularly Norman Murchie, alongside Northbrook’s music department, spearheaded the management and organisation of the event and the recruitment of all the acts, successfully curating a diverse programme of talent.

Parents and staff at local schools, as well as community organisations, were integral to the events success by supporting the young performers before, during and after the event. 

One parent – David, who’s son is independent singer/songwriter Raf – revealed: “My son was super impressed with everything and is very grateful for being given the opportunity and freedom to do his own thing on stage in front of an engaged audience. He absolutely loved the visuals that appeared behind him! 

“It is heartwarming to see the arts being given the time and space that they deserve. The variety on show was spectacular. The workshops next door also looked very impressive.”

Jerry Thackery (also known as Everett True), a music journalist for NME and parent of a member of Level Cadence, added: “So inspiring, so fun, such a welcome relief of fresh air and support for a new generation of upcoming musicians, rock and otherwise”
S’koolfest is just one of many events organised by Northbrook College that demonstrates the college’s commitment to promoting and developing young musicians, nurturing talent, and supporting the arts.

The support and connections that Northbrook maintains with local organisations ensures staff are able to provide the best possible opportunities for young people. 

You can find out more about the Music Department at Northbrook College here:

If you are interested in finding out more about the college’s community collaborative outreach work, please email: