Spring Term Newsletter 2018

Words from the Head...

Dear Parents, Carers, Pupils, and Students,

What a term, and what a year so far!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate what has been a wonderful term filled with so many different successes, including so many engaging educational trips, news of the exciting developments to Cone Ripman House, an array of performance work including The ISA Drama Competition, RichDance, BTEC Acting and Musical Theatre productions, Drama and Music examination performances, and we’ve still got The Dance Show to look forward to!

We’ve also had the wonderful news that once again, ArtsEd students have succeeded in reaching the Finals of The National Student Drama Festival, (three times we’ve entered and three times we’ve reached the Finals),  and once again we’re the youngest finalists, with the other companies composed of students from universities, Drama Schools and adult theatre groups – very best of luck to all the members of the MT Company, and to Mr Stinton and Mr Bannon who are the Director and MD respectively – let’s hope that ‘Violet’ continues to shine!

There is however some sad news, as we head towards the Easter break, Mrs Collura is finalising her exciting plans to relocate between Italy and North Devon and will be saying goodbye to ArtsEd at the end of this term. I am sure I speak for all the pupils, students, staff, and parents that have worked with Mrs Collura over her time at ArtsEd, when I thank her for all her extraordinary hard-work, pastoral support, and Performing Arts expertise that she has brought to our School – and not to forget the Yoga! We shall miss her enormously, and the place won’t seem quite the same without her, but of course we wish her every possible success as she begins her fantastic new adventure!

Mr Reynolds (Head of Key Stage 3, ArtsEd Youth Dance Company Director and Dance Teacher) will join The Senior Leadership Team in an Associate role during the Summer Term, taking on Mrs Collura's responsibilities as well as chairing TAP. On behalf of the School, we wish Mr Reynold's best of luck in his new role.

All that is left for me to say is have a restful and enjoyable break, and best of luck with all the revision, rehearsals and performances that I know many pupils and students are involved in during this time.


Adrian Blake


Farewell from Julia...

Prior to Half Term, Mr Blake suggested I write a ‘Farewell’. Over the past several weeks, whilst walking to the train, washing the dishes, or waking in the night, I’ve composed numerous versions in my head. Fed up with my procrastinating self, at 4am this morning, I pad to the kitchen and put the kettle on. There’s an interview on BBC Radio 4 with actor, Michael Balogun, who’s talking about when he was at a particularly low point in prison he realised he wanted to act. Following training at RADA and numerous successful roles he’s currently treading the boards at The National in MacBeth. I’m completely drawn in to his story as I await the brewing coffee and it strikes me that perhaps the best approach for this bittersweet task is to opt for a Careers Talk format  - the journey; a few highlights; a couple of challenges and maybe even a word or two of advice.

Sub-zero temperatures, blizzard conditions - Buffalo, New York - about half an hour from Niagara Falls. Youngest of six. Long walks to and fro school. Snow angels. Leather bound Dickens; Edgar Allan Poe and paperback Agatha Christie’s on dark wintry evenings. Highschool Drama: large-scale productions, late night rehearsals, cavernous dressing rooms beneath the stage - magical. A childhood and youth underscored at the piano with Bach, Mozart, Chopin.

Proud Italian American parents with a strong work ethic:

She should be a music teacher...
… I want to act…
I’m not sending you to college for acting…

Take the other fork in the road instead: Music School.

18 years old: New York City. 8-hour daily practice routine. Music theory, Historical Context, assessment recitals…  Part time job as Artist’s Assistant backstage at The 92nd Street Y - meet greats such as Yo Yo Ma…wow… Bachelor’s and Master’s in classical piano performance. Busking: Central Park, Subway; Staten Island Ferry. Piano gigs at glamorous Upper East Side ‘Gossip Girl’ cocktail parties; Part-time work at LaGuardia Highschool, better known as the Fame School … Reality: Gigs don’t pay the rent.

1. Lower School Music Teacher at independent boys school on Upper East Side. Not a good fit.

2. Middle and Highschool Drama Teacher and Musical Director at independent progressive school in Greenwich Village. Good fit. Circumnavigate to childhood denied vocation. Realise inherent understanding of ‘what works’ on stage. Director’s vantage point. Flamboyant large-scale productions: Ragtime, Arabian Nights, Rent. Post-show chats with Patti Smith, Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere. Balance full-time post with study at New York University for Master’s Degree in Educational Theatre. Begin taking yoga classes to manage stress of urban lifestyle. Attend week-long yoga retreat in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Purchase an old farmhouse on Alicudi in The Aeolian Islands. Only, rainwater. No cars. Mules transport luggage. NYC friend warns: ‘It’s a money pit’. Access via stone steps on ancient path, 400 metres above sea level. Very long walk from port. Very long flight from New York.

International lifestyle takes wing. Relocate to UK with ‘Englishman in New York’ husband. Finish NYU degree at Goldsmiths, University of London.

3. Various gigs include Visiting Lecturer on PGCE Drama and Applied Theatre courses at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama; Part-time work doesn’t pay the rent.

4. Drama Teacher: Hurtwood House, Surrey. Drive on ‘the wrong side of the road’ from London. Dark, ominous single track lanes. Never manage to see that elusive badger.

5. Return to CSSD: Acting Pathway Leader on PGCE Drama course. Shortlisted for full-time post. Simultaneous phone call regarding post at ‘Performing Arts School in West London’. Interviewed and offered post; withdraw from CSSD interview.

Take the other fork in the road instead.

6. ArtsEd: Home for 8 years - various roles: Sixth Form Tutor, Drama Teacher, Junior Musical Director, Acting Head of Sixth Form, Director of CPD and Careers, BTEC Acting Teacher and TAP Chair. Dance steps and harmonies waft through corridors. Student and staff camaraderie. Zest for life. Enthusiasm for learning. Intimate and down to earth. Energy. Excitement. Drive. Like the Fame School, but better. Perfect Fit.

6a. Train as RYT-200 Yoga Teacher. Yoga added to ArtsEd’s Sixth Form curriculum as Carousel option. Students benefit from time on the mat.

6b. Establish collaborative site-specific performance practice with Artist, Richard Launder. Selected performances at Manifesta 11; Beirut, Bodies in Public Conference; British Ceramics Biennial. Guest Lecturer at The Art Academy - Bergen, N.

7. Next chapter: Relocate between Alicudi and North Devon to manage Airbnb eco- style cottages and expand business to include ‘Yoga Breaks’ with an eye to bring this to North Devon - if you fancy time in a pristine, remote Mediterranean island location please do reach out to me and we’ll make sure that you’re well taken care of: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/15061940
Further develop site specific performance practice; develop freelance voiceover work and teaching. Big risk.

I believe Risk’s ally is Trust. At ArtsEd we encourage students to take risks – to step outside of their comfort zones – for ‘that’s where the magic happens’… and the school provides a safe encouraging environment for just that. Hopefully students will develop the trust to take that sensibility with them into life after ArtsEd and continue to grow and expand and not stay still…

It’s been a privilege to teach at ArtsEd and to be a part of this amazing community. Thank you everyone for all of the experiences and memories, which I will carry with me.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."
Thomas Meehan

With warmest wishes,

Julia Collura
Director of CPD and Careers, TAP Chair

Creating ‘Violet’: Arts Ed’s Musical Theatre Company travels to Leicester for the NSDF.

By Maddy Ambus, Year 13

Being involved in ArtsEd’s production of Violet; a moving musical featuring show-stopping anthems, ranging from American-roots to folk to gospel, with a score from Tony-winning composer Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Brian Crawley and inspired by the short story, The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts, has been a rewarding and inspiring moment in my life. The process has involved frequently staying late after college and constantly being challenged by the deadline to get the production ready in time to be entered for the NSDF competition being held in March 2018 in Leicester, my home town.

The opportunity of being able to return to where I grew up with a production I am proud to be a part of has been made possible by attending ArtsEd. Personally I am thrilled to be returning to the character of ‘Violet’ as it has been one of the most challenging, yet fulfilling roles I have ever had the pleasure to take on. Going home to Leicester, where I first discovered my love for performance, is such an incredible moment for me as a performer.

The Musical Theatre Company is so special to ArtsEd as it enables students from every discipline (actors, dancers etc) to audition for and take part in an extra-curricular production. The cast and I can definitely admit that the rehearsal process was stressful at times, through unforeseen changes and a tight schedule to stick to, but overall we have all learnt so much about telling a story and working together to create something we truly believe in.

The National Student Drama Festival isn't just an opportunity to perform and watch performances; we will also be able to participate in workshops with industry level creatives, learn about their personal experiences and the realities of the industry as well as get advice on how to begin our own careers.

Going on to Leicester, we are all feeling excited to begin the process again with new ideas and suggestions to be added before our next performance.

This special production will remain a significant part of our lives and has helped us all to appreciate our craft.

Performing at RichDance

By Sophie West (Year 13 Dance Captain)

RichDance is the borough's annual platform for new dance which took place on 9 and 10 March at The Hammond Theatre at Hampton School. Over 450 dancers took part in the two day dance festival, showcasing a dazzling variety of extraordinary talent.

It was a really great opportunity for the ArtsEd Youth Dance Company to showcase our work in preparation for the upcoming Dance Show. We received really positive feedback on it, which motivated us to continue working hard. It was a brilliant space to perform in and the facilities gave us a valuable familiarity of a professional production. There was a diverse range of dances, which familiarised us with the work of other companies around England. We all really enjoyed it and it was a lovely bonding experience for the Company. We hope to perform in this platform again in the future.

Voice in a Million

By Sophie Pierard Year 8

On Wednesday 14 March 2018, the ‘Voice In A Million’ concert was held at Wembley Arena. This event is the world’s largest school concert, where hundreds of schools join together to raise as much money as possible for adopted or neglected children around in the UK.

At 1:00pm, a group of years 7 to 10 ArtsEd students set off for Wembley. We were all extremely excited to perform on the famous stage for the first time. Once we arrived, tickets were handed out for seating areas. At first glance, the arena looked massive. My heart was pounding.

A parade took place to introduce all the schools there. Some students were invited to teach us all the movements in the numbers. With the dancers at the front and the choirs on the stage, the tech rehearsal began. Every single person took part equally. It was an incredible experience to hear all the songs the choirs has been rehearsing for months performed live.

Our students sung as part of ‘Song Academy’s’ choir. This academy gives children the opportunity to write and perform their own song. I thought it was an excellent idea to give young people that privilege.

The song we sang was called ‘Right to be Loved’. A powerful song, it represents the fact that the world is built on our love for each other, and that without us, no one would be where they are today.

The real show began at 7:15pm. Parents and carers flooded into the auditorium, all instantly looking for their children. 

With the lights dimming, and the choir taking their place on the stage, the concert began. We all danced and sang to other people’s songs, and had the times of our lives.

We shared the stage with four special guests: HRVY, Road Trip. Lil T, and Riccardo. HRVY and Road Trip held a ‘Meet and Greet’, where I got my ticket signed. It was amazing to meet them and share the same stage.

Performing in Wembley Arena is a once in a lifetime opportunity. With the addition of knowing you are performing for a charity, it makes the event just that little bit more special. Thank you ‘Song Academy’ for inviting us, and thank you Mrs Jones and Mr Bannon for helping make it happen for ArtsEd.

A visit to the Science Museum

By Zoé O’David, Year 8

On Monday the 22nd of February 2018, Year 8 paid a visit to The Science Museum in South Kensington. Soon after settling down, The ArtsEd bunch head off for a fun and educational day. Our first area to explore followed the topic Year 8 has been working on with Mr Van-Rooyen this Spring term - all about the wonders of Earth and Space. The exhibition informed us about the fascinating characteristics of the universe - the laws of gravity and how it keeps us pulled towards the centre of the Earth, the Sun and its important job, and some interesting facts about the seven other planets orbiting the Sun in our Solar System.

The exhibition also described how humans began developing technology that would possess the ability to take humans to space and back again safely, which it soon did. It was proved that shooting for the stars was physically possible when astronaut Neil Armstrong (1930 -2012) landed on the moon out of harm’s way in 1969. We found out how astronauts survive whilst floating in zero-gravity, and some of us later on even got a taste of the unfortunately dry food they have to eat!

After we landed on Earth once more, we entered into the world of Biology. Our Spring term biology class is currently looking at  Genetics and Evolution, so we discovered how boys and girls are deciphered depending on their chromosomes, and participated in a few activities to improve our understanding, whilst thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We understood how the body reacts to certain things with certain emotions. We also briefly covered interesting attributes in animals, due to both environmental and inherited causes -including the Polydactyl Cat (the cat with seven toes)!

The next section of the trip was reserved for a transfixing iMax 3D documentary, naming and revealing those unbelievable implements in the world that we can’t see - due to them being either too fast, too slow or too small. Most of us were rather startled to find out that we breathe in animal skin flakes, entities from space, pollen and other not-so-pleasant things! 

After lunch, we went to the WONDERLAB! There were so many riveting experiments and displays to see! After some exploring, everyone went to the Flash Bang Wallop show, where two eager students gladly volunteered themselves for some safe but impressive explosions! We enjoyed the slides in the Wonderlab the most (this proves you can be any age to enjoy a good slide, and, it helped us to understand how friction works and how much of it acts on different surfaces)!

Overall, the trip was a great learning experience, and I think we are now a lot more interested in science than we were before!

Science Club

By Roxanne Lawson, Year 7

Science club is a weekly gathering where science enthusiasts do experiments, research and learn about different parts of science. Every week we do something new, which means that pupils always walk into Science Club eager and excited. I love how diverse Science Club is  - one week we could be dissecting a sheep eyeball, the next, we could be testing good conductors of heat. As the Science Lab has plenty of equipment and resources there are many options for cool, crazy and fun experiments. We do research and experiments across Biology, Chemistry and Physics, which help us when we have to refer back to something in lessons, whilst having a good time.

The club meets each Wednesday during lunch and for 20 - 30 minutes and is open for anyone who wishes to join. Mrs Boon (who is an excellent Science and Maths teacher), plans what we do each week as well as makes sure we have the right supplies to have a successful and productive time. There is always trial and error with any experiment, which allows us to think around a problem to find unique and interesting ways to solve it.
Science Club offers amazing opportunities, so don't miss out!

Girls on Board

By Amara Mughal, Year 8

Early on this term, ArtsEd participated in Girls on Board, which is an approach to dealing with girl friendships. It helps us by ensuring that girls are: happier at school, less distracted by friendship issues and more focused on the ‘important stuff’. We are one of the first 20 schools to gain a Girls on Board Licence. As a result, we will now have access to an increasing list of resources.

The day was led by Mr Blake and Miss Parker-Wood, who gave a PowerPoint presentation, which enabled us to participate. It taught us how to empower ourselves to solve our own friendship problems and recognise that they we are usually the only ones who can.

By empowering girls to find their own solutions, parents will worry less and schools can focus more on the curriculum. This session looked at the dynamics of group sizes, different types of girls and behaviours, managing parent reactions and included role-play.

Furthermore, we looked at a boat as a metaphor, which represented a friendship group or clique; on the boat there are various passengers/characters with a specific role in that clique. For instance, a Queen Bee is the leader of the group controlling who’s in it and what happens.

In addition, we explored which is the best group size if you were walking down a hallway…. which size is better? Lastly, we role-played a fun and interactive scene portraying a parent’s reactions to a child’s problems.

On the behalf of Year 8 girls, we found we could apply the information to our own scenarios to come to a reasonable solution. A girl who participated said: “It's like Girls on Board helps girls realise that when they fall out with each other it's completely normal, not weird or scary”. Every girl needs a friend!

Revision Tips...

Here are some revision tips from Simmone Brown-Smith, Head of KS4 and Mark Ferrington, Director of Sixth Form.

Parents, you can help us at home by:

  • Keeping in close contact with us so you know the best way to support your son/daughter with their individual subjects.
  • Providing tools for home work and revision such as a quiet space that is conducive to learning and a ‘workbox’ of pens, revision cards and other necessities.
  • Being a ‘study buddy’ – showing an interest in their subjects, helping with homework and testing them.
  • Being a project manager – agreeing the rules for homework or revision, helping them to make a realistic timetable, balancing work against the ‘fun stuff’ and changing the plans as necessary.

Key tasks for students:

  • Organisation is integral – before you start revising make sure that you have all you textbooks, revision guides, workbooks etc. organised for all your subjects. Having a folder for each subject is useful.
  • It is very important to make a realistic timetable and a plan that you can stick to.
  • Keep everything that you need in one space at home so that you don’t waste time before each sessions searching for equipment.
  • Make clear specific goals for each session.
  • Take full responsibility for your learning – write down the difficult concepts that you don’t understand and ask your teacher to explain them again.
  • Look after yourself by taking regular breaks and exercises to stretch your muscles, eat ‘brain food’, drink lots of water and get fresh air.
  • Knowledge Revision: Use flashcards, mind maps or games that challenge your knowledge.
  • Skills revision can include assessing past exam papers, improving them and correcting mistakes, and working on timed exam questions.
  • Take full advantage of the opportunities you have available at school. Make use of silent study sessions, long tutor times, lunchtimes, use of the degree level library and if needed, book one-to-one sessions with teachers for help and guidance.
  • If you don’t feel very motivated at home, there are quiet areas of the school where you can work, so decide to forego your late starts for a school study session.

Good luck!

~ Some excerpts were taken from ‘GCSEs What can a parent do? 101 tips to ensure success written by Dr J Casey

Stress: How to deal with it.

By Simone Mumford, Year 13

Whilst naturally our stress levels fluctuate throughout the day and week, it begins to become somewhat of a concern when your stress gets to a point where you find yourself moving in and out of a manic depressive state, laughing and crying simultaneously, rocking gently back and forth, itching desperately for your daily Hack and Veldt iced almond caramel latte fix despite it being winter and being about three grand in debt already…Nope, definitely haven’t done any of that! All jesting aside, stress is a real epidemic, especially at a busy, demanding school like ArtsEd. 

The Internet advertises a variety of ‘self-care checklists’ consisting of activities like: having a bath using an oddly named bath bomb from Lush or hitting the gym to sweat it out or watching a film. Whilst these methods may work excellently for some, they are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type package. I recommend trying out a variety of methods and implementing some more long-term solutions into your daily life. For example, some activities that have helped me to reduce stress generally include:

  • Getting regular exercise (This releases endorphins - or the ‘happy hormone’ If you want to be extra cool try out some yoga – you’re welcome Julia)
  • Being in nature (Going to the park, unplugging and not being near a computer or phone for a bit can really help.)
  • Just saying “enough is enough” and getting sufficient, quality sleep. It’s true that sometimes you can feel so stressed that it’s hard to even fall asleep in the first place which is why I recommend taking at least one evening off during the week where you do nothing but relax. Yes, that means heading over to your local Sainsbury’s and buying your favourite tub of Ben and Jerry’s, ordering a Dominos and doing nothing. Dim the lights, have a cup of herbal tea and BREATHE. It’s so important to unwind even if just for ten minutes a day.
  • Journaling/Keeping a diary. Writing down your thoughts can be an excellent outlet, especially when you can’t quite pinpoint what your main issue is. The act of writing can give you a satisfying feeling of transferring the mental chaos onto something visible. From here, you’ll often find it easier to identify what things you need to prioritise and what is causing you the most grief/stress.
  • Meditation - This has been quite a revelatory one for me. Initially it can seem frustrating as hell but stick with it for while. Consistent practice makes it easier to control your thoughts during stressful situations. I recommend the app ‘Headspace’.
  • Speaking to someone, anyone. This could be your best friend, your mum or a counsellor.

I’m not asserting by any means that these will cure you of stress for life. I still definitely have my episodes, but by incorporating more self-care into your daily life and taking the time to recharge, hopefully this will help you to reduce stress and feel less like Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire. Yikes.

ArtsEd Friends

We are immensely proud of our reputation for nurturing the talents of our students and for creating exceptionally confident and creative young performers. However every year, financial pressures mean that young people of great promise face the prospect of turning down their place at ArtsEd or even having to leave the school.  We can and do provide some support, but not to everyone that needs it. We need your help!

In November last year we launched ArtsEd Friends, an annual giving programme to support students who are facing financial hardship. From as little as £10 per month, ArtsEd Friends are directly helping us to share our excellence and passion with today’s young talent. We would love you to come and join us.

You can find everything you need to know about ArtsEd Friends here and there will also be the opportunity to hear more about the programme at each performance of the Dance Show.
In the meantime, if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact Sue Sandle, Director of Development at ssandle@artsed.co.uk or on 020 8987 6644.

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