Performing Arts Multi-functional Facility – FAQs
1. How can the Headteacher complain about a lack of money and spend such a significant amount of money on new facilities?
Our school moto is “In Pursuit of Excellence” and we want to give a first-rate educational opportunity to every child that comes through those school gates.
Any funding given for the performing arts project will be ‘ring-fenced’ for buildings. It will not be available for staff costs or day to day operating costs. Currently, we have an expanding school and music is being taught in a £20,000 a year, rented portacabin.
For music, drama and dance to progress we need to give them proper facilities and then these subjects can be offered post-16 and be valued as important with the appropriate infrastructure to match. This is now an opportunity to have a purpose built state-of-the-art facility for performing arts and music. In terms of flexibility, the additional classrooms, and performance and drama spaces would allow for flexible examination spaces as currently some of these need to be held off site and will allow extracurricular activities to take place.
2. Does the school need these new facilities?
Performing arts play a significant part in a student’s development, confidence and self-esteem and as outlined above, our current provision is not fit for purpose. Students are in an educational system that is externally exam heavy and subjects that allow students to be creative, explore and dream are essential for their well-being and health.
This purpose built educational facility would provide a performing arts and multi-functional facility for teaching and will combine music, drama, dance and vocational studies. It will also help children learn about business. There is a radio station, booking office, hair salon and small kitchen and servery. Marketing of events will also provide opportunities for students to understand business promotion. As mentioned above, these additional spaces would also add significant capacity to the school and provide some flexibility when needed.
The educationalist Professor Sir Ken Robinson advocates that an exam heavy curriculum kills creativity. Every child has a right to broad education, especially in the performing arts. He says that to engage and succeed, education must develop on three fronts. First, that it should foster diversity by offering a broad curriculum and encourage individualisation of the learning process. Second, it should foster curiosity through creative teaching, which depends on high quality teacher training and development. Finally, it should focus on awakening creativity through alternative didactic processes that put less emphasis on standardised testing, thereby giving the responsibility for defining the course of education to individual schools and teachers. He believes that much of the present education system in the United States fosters conformity, compliance and standardisation rather than creative approaches to learning. Robinson emphasises that we can only succeed if we recognise that education is an organic system, not a mechanical one. Successful school administration is a matter of fostering a helpful climate rather than “command and control”.
3. Why is the bell tower part of this design? How is it being funded?
The bell tower is the iconic entrance to the performing arts facility and will be completely privately funded. We are already seeing private sector investment and we hope that with this we can attract further investors who will ‘match’ the already generous investment received.
This is the fourth attempt to have a bid to develop these curricular areas. This is a great cultural and educational opportunity to become the first state school to have a non-intrusive, sound proofed, beautiful bell tower and have something completely unique to Christopher Whitehead. This is key to interest further investors.
I want pupils to have as wide an experience as possible. Bell ringing has far reaching educational benefits: in the teaching of art, science and mathematics. Bell-ringing sheet music is based on mathematical formulas and requires mental agility for synchronisation and the combination of the bells. It will also help improve children’s physical agility, co-ordination, reaction time and balance, plus improve muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
Please be aware that a range of measures are in place during teaching in consideration of the local area:
• Physical Mufflers on the bells: will prevent significant sound from the bells themselves
• Technology: a computer will sense the rope being pulled and record the virtual sound of the bell being rung. Bell-ringing students will be able to hear the virtual sound of the rung bell through headphones
• Intelligent design of the building: the purpose-built facility will be fully designed to minimise any noise, for example, the louvres to the building will remain closed during bell-ringing teaching
• Restricted times: teaching will take place no earlier than 10am and no later than 6pm.
The sound of the bells will be audible and not muffled only for special local and national events. These will not exceed 12 days in a calendar year and on each of these 12 days, will not exceed an hour in total duration of bell-ringing between the hours of 10am and 6pm.
Stunning views will also be provided across Worcester from the viewing platform of the tower, which includes the historic Cathedral, with local overlooking avoided by the careful positioning of opaque screening glass.
4. Who could benefit from this facility?
We see this as a significant benefit to Worcester; the local schools, the local businesses and clearly those who attend the school. The design by One Creative Environments Ltd. (One) is innovative and one which we hope will help to further raise the profile of the City and inspire the future generations. The theatre will offer opportunities to the community, primary school children, youth groups and to our 1,300+ students.
We see this as a significant benefit to all of West Worcester; the local schools, the local businesses and clearly those who attend the school. The design by One Creative Environments is innovative and is a talking point for Worcestershire. The theatre will offer opportunities to primary school children, youth groups and to our 1,300+ students.
Research shows that a broader education, including the performing arts, prepares students for life after school.
The new centre will provide an innovative stimulus for the arts in the school and will inspire and encourage new generations of students to access an impressive range of opportunities. The importance of the arts in education is now well understood and proven: the benefits on a young person’s holistic educational development – personal, social, academic and artistic – is beyond question. There will be a wide range of educational artistic options available at the new centre.
Students will have the chance to learn something new with the very best of resources available. This is particularly so regarding the bells. Bringing this unique opportunity of learning to ring directly to students in their school will most definitely encourage and inspire, especially amongst those who are least likely to engage otherwise in the arts.
It is opportunities such as this – that are not normally available within the curriculum – that really do make the difference between young people discovering and engaging, or never making the connection at all. It is all about access.
Worcester has a proud heritage of bells and ringing which, in recent years, has been developed further putting Worcester at the forefront of this ancient art and science. That is something to applaud and make available to students in their school environment; the Bell Tower feature will provide a great platform for young people locally to aspire to and be proud of.
Even asking students to make just a small step outside of school to take up an ‘external’ activity can be the barrier that means they never get involved. If the activity is championed and facilitated onsite by the educational establishment, this is what makes the difference.
The facility will be available to everyone – local schools, especially feeder primary schools; the local community; arts organisations in the city, county and further afield.
5. What next?
The views of the community are absolutely vital and we have listened to all of the feedback during the consultation.
Planning permission was granted on Thursday 22 February 2018 with seven city councillors voting for this exciting project, just two against and one abstaining. Reba 4 costings of the project will occur from June to November.
We will approach the Government, the county council, major businesses, Trusts and charities and individuals for funding. This will be a low-key approach. We will continue to work closely with the design team in the coming months and we hope to start building in 2019.
If you wish to provide some financial support, no matter how small, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide information about the different types of funding.