Cambridge Edition May 2023 - Web


Performing arts develop the personal skills students need study, it’s actually second in popularity only to football as a physical activity! While big with parents (after all, who doesn’t enjoy watching their child wow an audience?), performing arts have a much wider role to play. There’s the social dimension.

It involves students collaborating while expressing themselves and boosting their self-esteem. Pupils who thought they had nothing in common might well find a shared purpose in working together, even learning valuable lessons of social interaction along the way. David Barrett stresses the benefits to mental health. “Students have their voices heard,” he says. “It gives them a huge level of confidence.” Some productions will feature students who may never have been on stage before, but succeed in finding their voice. “That’s the driving force behind everything we do,” he says. “It’s about giving them confidence. Drama is fun, but it has a much

bigger purpose than putting on a costume and having a good time.” It’s a view shared by other performing arts specialists. “Performing arts develop the personal skills that students require to survive in a competitive world,” says Jo Davey at Stoke College. “They help to develop their independent learning.” She points to sixth formers who have had to juggle A-level work with taking part in productions and are succeeding at both. “It’s developing the person and the independent learning. It’s not about being perfect, but about us all learning something from this journey.” And that also includes an element of giving back to the local community, from an outreach programme at The Perse involving local primary schools to St Faith’s Senior Voices choir, where pupils in years 5 and 6 were involved in a Carols for Ukraine concert, raising money to buy an ambulance. Audiences coming to see A Christmas Carol at The Leys, meanwhile, were asked to bring items of food to be donated to a food bank, while a retiring collection after the school’s production of The It , focusing on mental health issues, was donated to the charity Mind. While there’s so much emphasis on the core academic subjects and how they’re taught and evaluated, it can be easy to play down the importance of other areas. Given their impact on everything from wellbeing to physical fitness, even literacy and numeracy progress, you’ll find plenty of drama, music and dance specialists presenting a compelling case for performing arts continuing to be front of mind – as well as front of house – in all our schools. IN THE SPOTLIGHT Performers take to the stage at Stoke College (above), a budding pianist at St Faith’s (left), and The Perse’s O Fortuna recital (below)



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