Performing Arts are at the heart of what we do at The Valley. We produce a whole-school annual production each March, as well as a Christmas Concert and other events throughout the year.
These all take place in our newly developed Valley Theatre. Pupils work on stage and backstage, supported by staff from across the school to deliver a production that builds confidence and teamwork amongst the entire community.
For one week each October, the timetable across the whole school is collapsed and pupils participate in arts activities as part of our Arts Week. These include workshops with professional artists, theatre visits and pupil-led learning activities. We always collaborate with a number of schools from the local community and host a school-wide design competition, involving pupils, staff and families. The week culminates in a showcase to which all Parents and Carers are invited.
The Performing Arts curriculum at The Valley encompasses a variety of arts disciplines. Pupils are given the opportunity to learn the ukulele, drums, piano as well as develop their singing voice. We teach about musical expression and performance and develop creative thinking skills and composition on a variety of instruments.
We are a well equipped department, with a recording studio and radio station (Valley Radio). Pupils are given the opportunity to learn a variety of music technology skills, including recording and manipulating sounds as well as managing live sound and radio broadcasts.
As part of their Performing Arts curriculum, pupils also learn basic theatre and drama techniques, including mask theatre. Pupils transfer their performance skills into film making projects. They learn how to use a selection of film making software and create trailers and animations, before planning and producing their own feature films. Photography is another area explored within Performing Arts. Pupils learn about light painting and photo editing, as well as the practical skills involved in taking photos in a variety of settings.
We work in partnership with Drake Music, who are a nationally renowned inclusive music charity, to deliver instrumental lessons and music interventions. These are delivered as 20 minute sessions, either individually or as a small group and are offered on the drums, piano, ukulele, guitar, bass guitar and voice. All pupils are eligible to sign up and pupils who are entitled to free school meals may receive these free of charge. There is also a drop-in Band Club during lunchtime twice a week, where pupils may explore different instruments.
Our Performing Arts curriculum allows pupils to achieve Arts Award qualifications at a variety of levels, from Entry Level 3 (Explore) to Level 3 (Gold). These are nationally accredited qualifications that demonstrate a pupil’s commitment and learning in the Arts and have successfully helped pupils access arts college courses once they leave The Valley.
We work in partnership with a host of professional artists and organisations and encourage pupils to attend ‘real life’ arts events through workshops, visits and master classes. Recent examples include a whole school trip to see Wicked the Musical in the West End, a session in a professional recording studio, a residency with a professional photography company and a mural project with a community graffiti artist.
Current and recent partnerships and residency projects
During this year, students learn about singing technique, music technology and dramatic performance. Students learn how to use loops of music to build their own compositions and how to make the clearest sound when singing songs from different genres. They also develop performance skills through individual and class performances on percussion instruments and using basic dramatic techniques. In addition, they are able to participate in the school production. In 2016, this was “Beauty and the Beast”.
Years 8 & 9
All students work towards their Bronze or Explore Arts Award during their Performing Arts lessons. These are Entry Level 3 and Level 1 qualifications. To achieve these awards, students must:
• Take part in an Arts activity
• Attend an Arts event
• Create a project on their Arts hero/heroine
• Pass their Arts skills onto others
As part of their curriculum, students learn new skills on the ukulele, voice and various percussion instruments, as well as develop their experience using Music Technology. They explore film-making and share their thoughts and opinions on different Arts Events. They extend their communication skills through presenting their research to their peers and acquire a greater knowledge of the Arts through practical activities.