“Excellent opportunities in the arts foster pupils’ accomplishments in creative and performance skills.”
—ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) report on Eaton House The Manor School
At a time when employers are placing an increasingly high value on creative skills and statistics show that a growing number of young people are experiencing mental health issues, we believe the performing arts have a vital role to play in addressing both areas. Thus, throughout the seven years that the girls are with us at Eaton House The Manor Girls’ School, we strive to offer as much exposure to music, drama and dance as possible. In doing so, we believe the girls gain a greater understanding of their own cultural identity; they learn to express emotion through an artistic medium; they develop the self-discipline required when rehearsing and the composure in performance; and they feel the wonderful sense of satisfaction when entertaining others. We hope that the joy found in the performing arts will stay with the girls for their rest of their lives.
Embedding Core Skills at an Early Age
As with so many elements of the educational adventure, we believe that introducing the performing arts to the girls from the age of 4 means the core skills will become embedded at an early age. Music, drama and dance are therefore an essential component of our academic curriculum and appear on the girls’ timetables throughout their Eaton House careers. Every year every girl in the school appears in one of our productions in the professionally-equipped theatre, and as these shows are rehearsed solely during music and drama lessons we do not require the girls to rehearse after school or at the weekends.
In addition, all forms lead an assembly on two occasions during the academic year. These assemblies are, again, performed in the theatre and are based on a theme or topic chosen by the form teacher. Generally consisting of drama sketches, direct address and songs, the assemblies maintain the frequent contact between the girls and the stage, meaning that their confidence grows at a consistent and steady rate.
Our numerous concerts and services are opportunities for the girls’ souls to be lifted through the playing of instruments and the singing of songs. Whether they have been learning for only a few weeks or playing for years, our musicians are regularly encouraged to perform in front of friends and family. With three choirs in The Girls’ School and an additional joint choir with the boys, we are able to be inclusive and yet also produce performances of a remarkably high standard.
With ballet being our current dance of choice, we provide a timetabled lesson every week for all the girls from KG to Year 4. In Years 5 and 6, the lessons become optional and, although they sit outside of the curriculum time, they still take place within the school day. Thus, many of our girls dance for the full seven years they are with us, and it is always a wonderful sight to see the girls perform in the pre-Christmas ballet presentation each December.
After-school Activities and Trips
Above and beyond all the opportunities already mentioned, the performing arts feature heavily in both our after-school activities programme and our school trips. All ability levels are catered for when it comes to the after-school activities programme, meaning that we are able both to give creative space to those wishing to perform simply for pleasure and more intensive tuition to those preparing for practical scholarships. With visits to some of London’s theatres and concert halls, all the girls are able to see and hear performances of the very highest standard; there is often no better way of inspiring the musicians, actresses and dancers of tomorrow than by showing the professionals of today.
With specialist teachers leading the way, and with opportunities for the girls to have additional one-to-one lessons with peripatetic staff for music and speech & drama, the performing arts in The Girls’ School are flourishing.