It’s a wrap! A long and very busy year in performimg arts at Chiswick School

Image: From the school’s dance production Aberfan

It’s a wrap!

Guest blog by Tommy Robinson

It’s been a long year. Well actually it’s been as long as any other year: 195 days 39 weeks, four full terms. However, when you fill an empty bag with as much as we do, it somehow feels fuller.
In a year that has seen industrial action that has limited the reach of extracurricular, both by schools and transport, we could have been excused for taking our foot off the accelerator, and students losing impetus.

Keeping the students in school in our priority and Chiswick school does that particularly well, we are well above average for attendance and this year was recognised with an FFT National school Attendance Award, which puts us in the top 10% in the country!

Image above: End of year production CHARLIE

So why do students go to school?

The answer is simple, to make a better life for themselves, to get an education and to use this education to ensure they have opportunities. This would be the case across the spectrum and in all schools, so what makes Chiswick School so different?

We see ourselves as a community, and each person in the community is treated with fairness and respect. Every time a student enters the school, they are reminded of this, and every student is given the same opportunities as the rest.

It is up to the individual student to take these opportunities and run with them. In the end it is the experience of school that will be reflected in their experience of adult life, If you had a good, positive and enriching school experience the likelihood is that you will feel more confident, and do better in later life.

Image above: TES award – Winner, Excellence in Creative Arts, Chiswick School

Of course, opportunities are something the performing arts excel at! 2022/23 has been our biggest year EVER! And the opportunities to perform have been wider than we could have ever imagined. The end of this academic year has reflected this.

It started at the end of June with our TES Education Award success. We were pleased at first to be shortlisted, not for one but two awards for the arts (excellence in the creative arts and department head).

On the day of the awards we made our way into central London, all suited and booted, took our seats and cheered our collective heads off as we were announced as winners of the Creative Arts award!

Images above: Summer Music 

We didn’t rest however. Next on the ever-increasing diary was our summer concert which took place at St Nicholas Church. The evening was a combination of orchestral pieces and choral songs. The church was full, and very appreciative.

Next was our Summer Arts festival. In the pouring rain our bands and steel pans performed to an audience full of wraps and crepes. In addition to this for the first time we invited our primaries along to perform some dances.

Images above: End of year production CHARLIE

Less than a week later was our main school production CHARLIE. The production, adapted by Mr Robinson (yours truly) was a riot of colour and craziness. The biggest surprise for the audience however was the interval.

During this time they were treated to chocolates, sweets, chocolate drinks and marshmallows. On their return the entire hall had magically transformed from a dull and grey school and Bucket house into a magical space, full of sweets, inflatables and Umpah Lumpahs running around and causing absolute chaos!

Image above: Dance production of Aberfan

The next performance was a song and dance show. The main piece was a dance interpretation of the story Aberfan. Many of the audience members had family from South Wales or were from the area itself. Through a specially mixed sound track of Karl Jenkins music and archive footage of survivors and contemporary news reports the story was told with delicacy, maturity and talent. This was a truly remarkable performance, by some extremely talented dancers.

Finally in the same week, we celebrated our students. We as a department had been celebrated at a number of award ceremonies already so it was our turn to give the students their well-deserved awards.

Image above: Classic cars and Champagne were the order of the day

Classic cars and champagne were the order of the evening, the students arrived in their best suits and frocks and a quartet played them into the hall. Awards were given for dance, drama and music and performances from each area held the evening together.

We also gave our Arts Champion award to one deserving winner, who had shown remarkable commitment and dedication for the whole year. Ruth Cadbury MP was our guest. She gave a speech about the importance of the creative industries, and the relevance of their artistic endeavours to the students’ lives.

Images above: Ruth Cadbury MP, guest speaker at a special awards ceremony for students

And it’s not over yet! As I am writing this, we are planning a trip to see Wicked and Pineapple Dance studio in the final week of term, and also being harassed by the students for plans for September.

What is clear from this year, in the performing arts at least, is that yes students come to school to learn. They come to school to better their lives and give them the keys to open the door to success. But keeping them engaged, happy, enriched, entertained and giving them a sense of well-being and importance is what we in the performing arts do best.

Images above: Special awards ceremony for students

We are now looking forward to a new term in September, and a new bunch of over enthusiastic, energetic and noisy students …..but not before a nice long break!

Tommy Robinson is Coordinator for Creative and Performing Arts at Chiswick School. In May he won a prestigious ‘Pearson National Teaching Award’ for his “outstanding work” as the school’s Head of Drama and in June the school was presented with the Tes Excellence in Creative Arts Award.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar