At Park Community Academy (PCA) we strongly believe that the performing arts are an area in which all our pupils can experience success. A high percentage of our pupils have aspects of oral communication, self esteem and the ability to work collaboratively identified on their Education and Health Care Plans.
The performing arts are therefore given high priority in our school curriculum and also our out of hours provision. All pupils across the 4 key stages having discrete art, music and drama lessons as well as the performing arts being used as a teaching and learning tool across the curriculum. Pupils in the Sixth Form also have the opportunity to develop key skills through the different ‘pathways’ on offer. Park Community run many arts linked after school and lunchtime clubs including band club, craft club, dance and choir and also run a very popular 2 week summer scheme in which the children are involved in a range of art and drama activities.
The performing arts were identified as a strength of the school by OFSTED who described our brass band as “an excellent example of inclusive practise”. The band, alongside the choir, acts as an excellent ambassador for PCA both in the local community and also nationally through the wide range of events it attends. In December 2018 the school was delighted to hear it has been awarded the Artsmark Platinum kitemark. In the feedback from the external moderation team it stated;
As a Platinum Artsmark school Arts Council England celebrates your commitment to arts and cultural education at a governing body level, the opportunities established across your provision and the leadership you are demonstrating in this area. Your children and young people are offered equal opportunity to influence, lead, experience and evaluate a diverse range of high-quality arts and cultural activities across a broad range of media and you are able to contribute to development opportunities in these areas for both your own staff and others. You have strong partnerships with arts and cultural organisations and can evidence the positive impact of this collaboration. Your children and young people have an opportunity to continually develop their knowledge, skills and understanding of arts and culture and you are working to further develop the leadership role you have established.
PCA has strong links with many of the arts based groups in Blackpool and regularly play host to theatre groups and artists in residence alongside regular trips out to the theatre and collaborative projects with the Grundy Art gallery. We have 3 key performances across the year, with our primary pupils entertaining us to a Christmas production, a whole school self esteem raising fashion show in spring and a secondary production in the summer term. We are fortunate to have a dedicated performing arts block in school which houses an art room and a fully equipped dance/drama studio.
In recent years we have extended our accreditation across the Key Stages. One afternoon a week is dedicated across the school to the Arts. Pupils in Key Stage 2 follow the Discover and Explore sections of the Arts Award qualification which enables the pupils to experience a rich range of cultural experiences. This is then built upon into Key Stage 3 when pupils are entered into their Bronze award. Throughout Key Stage 3 pupils have the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects and learn new skills. The accreditation offer in Key Stage 4 includes pupils completing Entry Level work at level 2 and 3 in which they can achieve a Diploma award. Also on offer in a BTEC Level 1 qualification which is aimed at stretching the pupils which show a particular flair for the Performing Arts.
Music is a powerful form of communication that can change the way children feel, think and act. It brings together intellect and feeling and enables children to express themselves personally and promotes emotional development. The teaching of music at Park Community Academy promotes children’s spiritual, cultural and emotional development. Music is central to the life at PCA. It develops their ability to listen and appreciate a wide variety of music from a range of cultures and traditions. Pupils are encouraged to become involved in different forms of music making, both communal and individual. It also increases self-discipline and creativity.
The music curriculum is defined by the programmes of study in the National Curriculum and the Creative Development area of learning from the Foundation stage. In the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 pupils are encourages to explore sound and the building of patterns of sound. Children have access to musical instruments both in their classroom and in the music and drama studio. They also explore music through dance, movement, story, role play and singing.
Pupils in Key Stage 2 build on this foundation knowledge and learn about the fundamental elements of music –rhythm, pulse, dynamics, tempo, pitch, duration, timbre and texture. The use of ICT within music lessons is integral. They create music from a range of starting points and rehearse towards group performances.
Pupils in Key Stage 3 will further develop their understanding of the elements of music supported by the online scheme of work ‘Charanga’. The units of work focus on the inter-related skills of performing, composing, listening and appraising. They also start to learn about the more formal elements of standard notation and music terminology.
Pupils in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 are taught two lessons of music and dance per week and pupils in Key Stage 2 and 3 have one lesson per week. Although formal music lessons do not continue in Key Stage 4 pupils are still given the opportunities to participate in music activities through the school band, choir and individual instrumental lessons should they wish to.
Drama is an integral part of teaching and learning at Park Community Academy. At the centre of all drama is communication. Like all the arts, drama enables students to communicate with and understand others in new ways. Developing communication skills in our pupils is vital and this is why every pupil at Park Community Academy is taught drama as a specific lesson as well as being integrated within the rest of the curriculum. Children are taught to communicate with others in new ways. It can help them develop tolerance and empathy. Drama stimulates creativity and problem solving skills. It can challenge students’ perceptions about their world and themselves. Drama can provide a vital outlet for emotions, thoughts and ideas that pupils might not otherwise have the means to express in a safe, nurturing environment. Above all else drama is a group activity that fosters the ability to work as a community and have shared meaningful experiences.
In the Foundation Stage and Key stage 1 much of the work in drama is rooted in the children’s own experiences of early and structured play. Simple role play and dance activities are embedded into the pupils music lessons and the development of role play and creative expression is integral to ongoing provision within the classroom. All pupils have the opportunity to perform for an audience at the annual Christmas Performance as well as special assemblies, e.g. the Harvest Festival.
At Key Stage 2 drama is taught through a variety of methods. They participate in drama games, role play and simple improvisation. Much of the drama work is based around traditional tales and stories that the children know. The units of drama are also planned around the KS2 topic work for the term. All the pupils have the chance to show off their drama skills and perform for an audience at the annual Christmas performance.
At Key Stage 3 the drama conventions that were introduced at KS2 are revisited and developed. Pupils learn a variety of drama strategies including tableaux, hot seating and teacher in role. Much of the work is planned around the KS3 topic work and also includes some issue based dramas such as bullying and prejudice. Pupils also have the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the history of theatre, in particular Shakespeare.
In recent years the school has developed strong links with Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). As a result of this pupils from PCA get to work collaboratively with other schools from across the town to take part in workshops and Shakespearian performances. These have included pupils from PCA taking part in performances of the ‘A Midsummers Night Dream’ and Macbeth. The work has also led to a number of pupils and staff being able to visit Stratford Upon Avon to work to work on national projects such as the ‘Next Generation Backstage’ and The Dream’.
Music and Drama