Performing Arts Faculty
The Performing Arts Faculty is made up of a vibrant and energetic team of teachers, whose passion for the subjects is tangible. Music, Drama and Physical Education are taught as discrete subjects at KS3, but we adopt a unified approach and a shared philosophy across the three curriculum areas. At KS4, students can opt to take one, two or three of the Faculty subjects at GCSE level if they so wish; the academic results are very good and many students go on to study the subjects at ‘A’ level and beyond. All three curriculum areas follow the Edexcel specification.
The Faculty enjoys a high profile within the school and the local community, and the extra-curricular programme on offer is a permanent and regular feature of school life, with a high percentage of the student body participating at a number of different levels. Every other year, in addition to the individual departmental activities, we work together on a fully staged Musical. The last few years have seen highly successful productions of ‘Oliver!’, ‘The Wiz’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ involving a large cast from across the ability and age range.
In Music at Key Stage Three students in Year 7 and 8 follow units on instrumental skills every other half term, allowing them the choice of learning guitar, bass, drums or keyboard. They follow a progressive method for each of these instruments which include traditional musical notation and backing tracks for each piece that the students are learning. They are assessed regularly throughout these units. For the other half term they follow units of work based around composition and listening. These include units on Samba Drumming, Composing Variations, Gamelan music, Composing Pieces in Ternary Form and composing Film Music. In Year 9 students undertake units of work based on the Musical Futures model where students are encouraged to work in groups learning and composing music that is directly relevant to them. Work within the Music curriculum is supported by very good ICT resources, including 30 computers running Sibelius, Cubase and Ableton Live and two Interactive Whiteboards. In addition, there are a selection of guitars, bass guitars, drum kits, 30 electronic keyboards and a reasonable stock of classroom instruments available. All of these resources make it possible to engage students, at all levels, in a variety of activities.
The work of the Music Department is supported by 9 peripatetic instrumental teachers. They are an integral and indispensable part of the team and, currently, teach approximately 150 students. The department runs 1 choir and at least 8 instrumental groups including an orchestra and a jazz band, which perform at numerous annual events throughout the school year. We are regular participants in the Festival of Music for Youth, having performed in the final on more than one occasion. Recent highlights include a concert in St Martin in the Fields and involvement in a local commissioned work. The department has organised 6 European Concert Tours, the last being a trip to Euro Disney for the Chamber Choir.
The Steel Bands at Walthamstow School For Girls are an important part of school life and have been running successfully for over 20 years. There are currently four steel bands: Year 8, Year 9, Year 10 and Year 11, involving approximately 70 students in total. The students have a one hour lesson once a week as a band. They are expected to practice every day before school, at break or at lunchtime. Entry is by audition in Year 7 and each year between 50 and 90 students audition for approximately 20 places. The Steel Bands perform at numerous events in and out of school including the Music For Youth Festival and high profile events around the borough of Waltham Forest.
In Drama at KS3 students are encouraged to build their drama skills ranging from mask work, physical theatre, devised work and working with scripts. The origins of theatre are explored with a strong emphasis on Greek theatre to develop opportunities in our outdoor amphitheatre space. As well as the Greek theatre, we have two brand new studio spaces and put a strong focus on Devised Work at KS3 and KS4. Practioners: Boal, Berkoff and Stanislavski are taught and explored in more detail at KS4. There is a weekly drama club for Year 8. The school is part of the Shakespeare Schools festival with a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in November involving all Year 8’s.
One of the key aims of the Physical Education Department is to emphasise the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, and to give all girls the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of sporting activities. This ensures that students experience a number of different sports, challenging them whilst giving them the chance to achieve success. Enjoyment within Physical Education at WSFG is absolutely vital, and we want every girl to build a lifelong positive relationship with sport and exercise that will continue beyond their school years and well into adulthood.
At Key Stage 3 the students follow a broad and balanced curriculum incorporating team games such as netball, basketball, rounders, handball and football, individual sports such as athletics and fitness, and artistic activities including dance, trampolining and gymnastics. This wide range of activities gives every student the opportunity to explore different forms of exercise and realise where their talents and interests lie. Students are assessed at the end of each activity block on their practical performance.
At Key Stage 4 the girls are given the opportunity to make decisions on the activities that they wish to study within their Physical Education lessons. At year 10 they choose to follow one of four pathways; team games, individual activities, street dance or the increasingly popular Sports Leaders Level One course. At year 11 they select three activities they feel suit their sporting interests; swimming, sports hall activities, self defence, dance or using the local YMCA fitness suite. Key Stage 4 Physical Education lessons give the girls the opportunity to select the types of activities they enjoy in order to maintain, and further develop their love of sport.
The Physical Education department runs a huge number of extra curricular sports clubs including netball, basketball, football and rounders, all of which have a team for each year group that compete in the Waltham Forest Borough League. We also run clubs in activities such as trampolining, Wii Fit, boxercise, cricket and badminton, some of which are led by members of staff from across the school, showing the girls that sport and exercise is for everyone.
In addition to the annual WSFG Sports Day, the PE department organises two Interform weeks throughout the year where every single student competes in an activity to win points for their form group. In Winter Interform the girls participate in dance, netball, basketball or tag rugby and in Summer Interform they compete in cricket, rounders or badminton. This promotes friendly competition between all the students, the importance of teamwork, working together and mutual respect for one another.
The Faculty firmly believes that education through Aesthetic and Physical subjects is of vital importance to the development of each individual. We strive to promote our work as a microcosm of the wider artistic and sporting world.