Performing Arts at Holy Trinity Academy involves students in the three disciplines: dance, music and drama. Dance and drama are offered as alternate half-termly units of one lesson per week whereas students receive a lesson of music per week throughout the year. We are committed to developing creating and performance skills in all our young people, whilst also encouraging them to be self -analytical, through observing and listening to their own and others’ work.
Throughout Key Stage 3, both boys and girls work together in learning basic movement components in a safe studio environment. Professional dance works are used throughout the course, as stimuli for composing and choreographing their own solo and group pieces. The themes of these works become increasingly complex throughout the key stage and students are expected to respond in greater depth as they become more experienced. Contact work, physical theatre and a range of dance genres are taught and subsequently used as part of student compositions. By the end of the key stage we expect that students will have gained the necessary skills and knowledge to go on to GCSE.
In drama, improvisation skills are practised throughout the key stage, with devising and script writing becoming a more significant aspect of students’ learning. In year 7 we begin with the ‘Wheel of Emotion’, which encourages expression and body language; basic performance skills. There are two units which are taught in tandem with the English department; Oliver and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Exploring these through drama activities, we have found, enhances students’ understanding of the plot and in particular, the characters and their roles. Similarly in year 8, students study Much Ado About Nothing and in year 9, Macbeth, whilst also studying those plays in English. In year 9, more serious issues are explored. In a unit based upon Rosa Parkes and Martin Luther King, entitled ‘Taking a Stand’, we use drama activity to form a view about civil rights and freedom. The course culminates in a short film project lasting one term. The first half term is studio based and the second uses the school environment to create films based upon bullying. The films are then judged in the Year 9 Film Festival.
In Music, all students have the opportunity to experience music through the key areas of composing, performing and listening. There is the opportunity for students to learn to play an instrument and for students to develop their musical skills in a wide range of extra-curricular activities.
In Year 7, students learn how to use staff, graphic and other relevant notations appropriately in a variety of different musical contexts. They begin the year with a vocal music topic, exploring different vocal textures and techniques, before studying the basics of rhythm and pulse. They also explore the different sections and instruments of the orchestra, and are also introduced to the use of pentatonic scales through Chinese Music.
In Year 8, pupils continue to develop creative skills in a number of composing topics. We explore the influences of modern popular music through Jazz and Blues, learning how to perform key features of these styles. World Music is also a focus in Year 8, where pupils learn musical terminology and features through the practical contexts of African Music, Indian Music and Reggae. This provides opportunities for pupils to work both independently, in smaller groups, and also as a whole class ensemble. Pupils learn how composers use soundscapes to create an intended atmosphere in a Music and Space topic which is based on Gustav Holst’s The Planets.
In Year 9, students use the skills developed in Years 7 and 8 to create extended pieces of music. They explore and compose music for a specific purpose, through the contexts of Fanfares, by composing music for a special occasion, and Film Music, in which they create their own soundtrack for a James Bond film, using leitmotifs, cue sheets and storyboards. Practical performance opportunities involve individual, small group and whole class work, particularly in our topic on Samba, where students learn to listen to and respond to others in the group. Pupils explore Popular Song in which they explore features of song structure and texture, before producing their own cover version of a piece of music.
Music is offered both at GCSE and A Level, with continued success and pleasing sets of results throughout many years.
Instrumental lessons are offered to all students through visiting peripatetic teachers through Telford and Wrekin Music Service. Currently, lessons are offered in Keyboard, Guitar, Drums, Strings (violin, viola and cello) and Brass (trumpet, trombone and euphonium).
Extra- curricular activities are fundamental to Performing Arts at Holy Trinity Academy and our students respond with great commitment and enthusiasm to the many dance, music and drama clubs we hold each lunch time and evening. We believe very firmly that the skills acquired in these clubs feed back into our lessons, enhancing the quality of outcomes and promoting a strong interest in the Arts. As a result of these clubs we are able to hold annual dance productions and music concerts as well as musicals and serious dramas. In the past year and a half we have staged An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley, Gizmo by Alan Ayckbourne, Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo and Disco Inferno, the musical. These have been in addition to our Evening of GCSE and A Level dance performance and choreography, our dance productions and our music concerts. The above plays and the musical were all directed by our Arts Award students at Silver and Gold level, in order to fulfil the leadership aspect of the course. We have also worked with our feeder primary schools, providing after school clubs run by our Arts award students and look forwards to working with our new feeder primaries.
The Arts Award is a nationally recognised qualification accredited by Trinity College London and during our time as Blessed Robert Johnson Catholic College, it has been offered as an extra-curricular activity since 2008. This award gives student the opportunity to journey from Bronze to Gold award in whichever discipline they choose, be it dance, drama, music, art, media, photography, creative writing or any other artistic activity. They begin the journey in year 7 at Bronze level and those who continue complete the award at Gold level over two years, years 10 and 11. The Gold award earns students 35 UCAS points. Part of the award at every level is to attend arts events and to review them. To this end we organise a variety of theatre trips, our most recent have been, to see the Alston Dance Company, Blood Brothers and the Jazz Dance Company. In addition, in order to develop skills our students need to work with more advanced practitioners therefore we bring in professionals and professional companies, to include photographers, film makers and dance companies, to deliver workshops. One of our most memorable experiences was a two day residency at Birmingham Royal Ballet, followed by an evening performance.
We were delighted when our application to become an Arts Award Good Practice Centre for 2014 – 2015 was successful; one of only three mainstream secondary schools in the country whose application was successful. We look forwards to taking that success forwards in Holy Trinity Academy. As a result of becoming A GPC, we have run promotional events in order to encourage other primary and secondary schools in Telford and Shropshire to train their staff to become Arts Award advisers, have worked closely with Telford Culture Zone, have provided a case study and resource for the Arts Award web site, our students have become part of a research project and have appeared on a film to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the award and our portfolios are used as exemplar material in the training of advisers at every level.