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Mr Pickering’s Blog

February, all too often a month of winter gloom, is truly a special time of year at Croydon High School for, as I write this “Leadership Likes”, there is a tangible sense of anticipation in the air as we await the staging of the annual school production. After the recent theatrical triumphs of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, The Wizard of Oz and Oliver we are all looking forward to this year’s offering – Hairspray. With over 1400 tickets sold in less than six days it is obvious that word has got out about just how good these productions, led ably by Mrs Webb (Director) and Mr Suranyi (Musical Director) have become! This year’s show is truly gargantuan with 142 cast members together with 15 crew (led by Mr Bishop) and 10 pupils in the band meaning that more than 25% of the school’s pupils are directly involved.

We have become very familiar with such amazing endeavours in the realm of the dramatic arts at Croydon High School, so much so that we can forget that exactly the opposite situation has been developing across the British educational establishment for a number of years. The introduction of performance league tables, EBacc measures and the squeeze on school budgets over the last decade has led to many schools losing their way in regard to the dramatic arts and the immense contribution that they make to the educational experience of our young people. There are 1700 fewer drama teachers in the UK than in 2010. This, coupled with a 75% decrease in the numbers of graduate applicants to train, has led to a chronic shortage of drama specialists and a dramatic decrease in the numbers of pupils who pursue Drama at GCSE level (a 24% drop from 2010-2017). All this flies in the face of the vital role that the dramatic arts can fulfil in the education of our children.

Pupils gain resilience as they learn the value of positive and constructive critical feedback and they have the opportunity to celebrate the richness and depth of human expression in all of its forms. In doing so, they comprehend our world better and are therefore better equipped to cope with the challenges they might be faced with in higher education and the world of work.

Drama also allows an avenue to develop thinking skills that complement study in other subjects. For example, drama students learn to approach situations in an array of different ways which can help to develop creative thinking and new study techniques. Further, it builds confidence through the acquisition of habits that transcend all areas of study.

Communication between pupils is enhanced as students are exposed to group activities. This experience also provides opportunity for students to display and develop leadership qualities and some pupils may discover they are natural problem solvers or leaders. In addition, creative expression is an excellent way to build self-confidence and can be particularly beneficial for introverted and reserved children.

The Dramatic Arts also have a vital role to play in a world where children and young people can find it difficult to express their emotions and so it can provide a great outlet to explore a wide range of feelings including delight, anger and unhappiness. This experience can define a child’s growing sense of independence and interdependence.

Creativity produces fresh ideas, which are the basis for progress in today’s economy.  Why should we value creativity in the 21st century?  With an uncertain global economy our society needs not just numeracy, literacy and scientific skills to ensure progress, important as they are, but also the ability to innovate to create jobs and benefit the global society – emphasising creativity is more important than ever.  A creative economy is the hidden force that keeps us moving in the right direction as being creative keeps businesses flexible and able to produce innovative solutions to a wide range of problems.  Companies that emphasise creativity become leaders in their fields, since they are never satisfied with the status quo and are always exploring new solutions and ideas. Let’s never lose sight that today’s creativity creates tomorrow’s industry.

So, as we enjoy the show this weekend, we need to remember that what we are watching is not just a putting on of a play, but a major part of our important work in educating our girls in the fullest sense of the word. This is something that we can be truly proud of.

 Mark Pickering

Assistant Head

 

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