Gordon's is an 11-18 non-selective, mixed state boarding school
To use the Good to Great programme to extend opportunities and expose students to much more challenging musical experiences.
Initially the Arts Award leadership projects were considered but it became clear that in a busy boarding school, which already had an extended day, students were struggling to take on this level of work on a basis that would be regular enough to benefit the department.
Leadership opportunities were opened up to students, for example peer teachers - Sixth Form students were given specific responsibilities in KS3 lessons (e.g. an SEN student or a small group). A successful conducting workshop was held with Major Roberts of the Welsh Guards and one of the attendees went on to conduct the Semper Fidelis Singers (see below). Two Silver Arts Leadership projects ran, and one student leader managed to train up three percussionists to play in the school’s military wind band.
This year was a transition year between Arts Award and Good to Great, as it became apparent that rolling out an Arts Award project with a local primary school would not be possible due to funding constraints. Gold Arts Award students started taking on responsibility for concert arrangements and more students successfully undertook the Silver Award. A choral group was started as part of the Good to Great programme.
Students continued with the Gold Arts Award and the Good to Great programme had three strands - Semper Fidelis Singers (SFS), Pipes and Drums and Elite Instrumentalists. All took part in a number of local and national events, some high profile, and SFS won Godalming Music Festival Choral Class. The performance coordinator delivered CPD to the Music Lead at a local primary school to raise the level of challenge.
Student voice was gathered after every activity, feedback from teaching staff.
There is a real appetite for activities that may not at first sight appear ‘attractive’ to students. While there has been a drop off in numbers in the regular choir, which sings contemporary and accessible music, the SFS, which tackles challenging material, have remained stable and a number of students want to join.
Staff have had unintentional CPD opportunities on the back of visiting practitioners, and also the opportunity to talk with students about a wider variety of music at a more challenging level.
We have struggled a little with staffing and due to the extended day it has been difficult to find time to support students on their leadership projects. Some feedback is now given by email. There has been a lot of ad hoc work with the local primary school but we have failed to engage with them on a regular basis and in any depth. We have learnt not to commit to a project unless funding has been secured first.
Rachel Brazendale, Rbrazendale@gordons.surrey.sch.uk