Ed Vaizey speaks with students about the success of the Arts at DGSPosted on: 16/10/2018
Across the country, many schools are having to make difficult decisions about the future of creative arts subjects. At Didcot Girls’ School, however, we are delighted to confirm that the arts are not just alive and well but flourishing and expanding through the leadership and passion of staff and students.
When the Rt Hon. Ed Vaizey, MP for Wantage, visited DGS this week, he confirmed that he was inspired by the enthusiasm and talent that our students have for Art, Dance, Drama and Music. All students spoke of how much they loved learning these subjects and articulated clearly why they feel they are so important.
Mr Vaizey was interested to find out why DGS has been so successful with the Arts. These subjects have a very healthy student uptake at GCSE and many are continuing to expand. In the last two years alone, the number of students taking GCSE Music has increased from 6 to 34, which is well above the national average, and numbers in GSCE Dance have never been higher.
During his visit, Mr Vaizey recognised that there were a number of things that made DGS different to other schools when it came to the Arts: a leadership team who promote a breadth of learning at GCSE, including the arts, a wealth of dedicated and passionate specialist staff, and an extra-curricular provision which is open to all students, regardless of previous ability.
In the Art Department, the breadth of experience is vast, with teachers having specialisms in fine art, graphic design, jewellery-making and sculpting. The presence of an artist-in-residence, with their work displayed prominently at the centre of the school, inspires students to get involved in wide range of art. In music, the scope of extra-curricular opportunities is vast, with choirs that feature over 140 students, a 60-piece orchestra and concerts which sell out tickets in a matter of hours! The Music Department this year also benefits from joining with the Music Department at St Birinus School, offering joint extra-curricular ventures. In Dance, the annual show at the Cornerstone Arts Centre will involve over 120 students, including boys from St Birinus for the first time. In Drama, joint productions for the whole school and an annual lower school production inspire students to be involved with acting, singing, dancing, lighting and sound.
Mr Vaizey spoke to students and staff about how it feels like the arts are being side-lined or squeezed out of the curriculum in many places, and was delighted to see that this was not happening at DGS.
We would like to thank Mr Vaizey for making time in his busy schedule to come and spend time with us. It was a pleasure to be able to share what we view as a vital aspect of a DGS education.