The UK’s leading performing arts school, Arts Educational Schools London (ArtsEd), has launched a world-class creative partnership with schools in Dubai
ArtsEd, the UK’s leading performing arts school, is celebrating 100 years of world-class training by launching across the UAE and partnering with eight schools including GEMS Wellington International School (WIS), GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis (WSO), GEMS Wellington Primary School (WPS), GEMS Jumeirah Primary School (JPS) and Jumeirah College (JC).
This partnership will see ArtsEd working closely with each school to achieve their strategic goals, including promoting performing arts, harnessing creativity and building self-esteem and confidence among students and teachers. ArtsEd will also be providing open programmes for students to attend during school holidays. For almost 100 years, ArtsEd has been providing outstanding performing arts training alongside excellent academic education to the likes of Dame Julie Andrews and Dame Angela Lansbury. It has been under the Presidency of Andrew Lloyd Webber since 2007.
“I strive to widen the performing arts provisions offered at WSO by designing bespoke programmes that enable students to have the best possible drama outcomes, through our exclusive acting and production arts pathways. Additionally, I collaborate with our partners, ArtsEd International, to further develop relationships with the stage school; this partnership aligns with our school vision to make our students ‘World-Class, World-Ready’. WSO is also the GEMS Centre of Excellence for Performing Arts and Theatre Tech, offering over 3,000 students weekly performing arts lessons taught by trained professionals.
The Arts Ed International partnership is focused on enhancing WSO’s provisions by:
• Advancing the performing arts skills of WSO students
• Developing the performing arts teaching skills of WSO staff
• Improving the success rate of students applying for conservatoire places in musical theatre or acting drama schools
• Progressing students’ ability to speak and present publicly
• Refining the performing arts curriculum
Our collaboration with ArtsEd is widening and strengthening the performing arts pathways at WSO. The stage school is providing five annual bespoke residencies, tailored to our students’ skillset, to help equip them for the future. Through the partnership, students and staff have been able to upskill their knowledge. Students have been provided with many more performance opportunities and extra professional training in the arts, through varying acting, musical theatre and dance courses with ArtsEd theatre professionals. Equally, this support has given students a platform to build confidence and communication skills, while polishing audition techniques.
ArtsEd also delivered specialist support and careers advice for our elite performing arts students, to ensure they feel fully supported to enter the industry. In addition, the partnership has created a chance for ArtsEd teachers and WSO teachers to collaborate. In February 2020, WSO staff will take part in a full teaching week at ArtsEd in London, to experience first-hand what it is like to work in a world-class drama institution. This ArtsEd Experience Programme will upskill WSO performing arts staff and allow access to teaching material and techniques used by ArtsEd staff. Similarly, other tailored residency courses will provide an opportunity for WSO teachers and ArtsEd teachers to join forces creatively, sharing ideas on how to direct students in large-scale productions.
All of these collaborations have been received extremely well; 100 per cent of students who attended the first residency said they enjoyed it and felt more confident auditioning for school productions. WSO teachers also feel empowered to be offered such creative professional development and are excited about how it will develop teaching and learning at WSO.
Because we are the Centre of Excellence for Performing Arts and Theatre Tech, performing arts are extremely popular at WSO. Our specialist Performing Arts Elite Teams are tailored to develop students in their most skilled performance area – ‘Adrenaline’ are our street dancers, ‘Dazzle’ are our musical theatre triple threats, ‘Illuminate’ are our most skilled actors, and ‘Resonance’ are our choir singers. All students from FS2 to Year 13 have the opportunity to access weekly performing arts lessons, taught by professionals, meaning the standard at WSO is extremely high. As a result, many of our alumni have gained a place at some of the leading theatre conservatoires in the world.”
“Our partnership with ArtsEd is a bespoke partnership. This has been developed in discussion with WPS Principal Catherine McKeever, representatives from ArtsEd and myself. The partnership’s end goal is to produce a performance of Shrek the Musical (Junior) that raises the bar in terms of quality. The children have already had an intensive rehearsal with the ArtsEd team during Curtain Up Week, and the ArtsEd team will then be back in February 2020 to teach the children about polishing and refining their performance to a professional standard.
The partnership has enhanced performing arts at WPS by giving our Year 5 and 6 children exposure to choreography and routines that would be found in professional theatre productions. This will boost the quality of the productions here at WPS, and in turn raise the profile of performing arts throughout the school. Performing arts are already very popular. We are working on developing a culture of performing arts that is deeply rooted in positive attitudes and collaborative teamwork, rather than simply individual talents, which is one of the reasons for having ArtsEd in the school. Our ethos surrounding performing arts is all about commitment and dedication, which the ArtsEd team have been helping us to develop.”
“The Partnership with ArtsEd is exciting for JPS. Performing arts and music have been one of our strengths as a school for a long time, but this has given us the impetus to place them at the centre of everything that we do. We have developed a social media hashtag #jpsrewritethestars for this academic year with the belief that every child has a unique talent that they can bring.
CPD [Continuing Professional Development] for all staff at the start of the year enabled them to look at their planning and consider how they could embed more drama into our ‘Concept Curriculum’ lessons. This has led to some excellent new approaches to teaching. For example, in our Year 5 unit on migration, children have been encouraged to think and act as characters from a story.
In terms of performing arts, there has been an upsurge in interest from the children as a direct result of some of the ArtsEd alumni visiting us in June 2019. As a result of this, we’re now running three choirs and two musical theatre groups using both specialist and non-specialist teaching staff with over 200 children involved. We have plans for joint events with other partner schools such as WPS and JC. The partnership with ArtsEd has given specialist staff new skills and confidence to develop further what we do. We are currently planning an immersive theatre day for our school UAE National Day celebrations where the Year 6 students will deliver knowledge about the UAE through innovative techniques that will also push them outside of their comfort zones.”
“Through our partnership with ArtsEd, recent ArtsEd graduates and industry professionals will be working with our pupils and staff over the next year to promote creativity across the curriculum. This is a hugely exciting development at JC. Our programme began in August 2019 with leadership training for our Year 13 executive team and our A Level drama students. Pupils spent a day with graduates and ArtsEd staff, learning a range of different leadership strategies and working on a performance. Our Year 13 pupils then spent three hours with our Year 7 cohort on their induction day. This was a fantastic experience for all involved, leading to a wonderful performance for pupils, staff and parents at the end of the first day.
Creativity was a key focus for our staff development at the start of this academic year and we have launched a whole-school focus on creativity in the classroom. ArtsEd delivered a fantastic session on the importance of arts in schools, linking this to employability through a range of different examples from business professionals who see creative skills as vital for future graduates. This term we were thrilled to welcome Andrew Lee, Director of ArtsEd International, Chris Hockley, Principal of ArtsEd in London, and a few of their recent graduates to our school production of DNA. Our pupils received some fantastic feedback and we are looking forward to welcoming the team back in February and June next year.
The ArtsEd team will be returning in February and we are planning our first Expo. This will involve exhibitions of art, music and drama as well as TedEx talks on ‘Creativity and Employability’ for pupils and parents. In the summer term, we’re planning a ‘Play in a Day’ with our Year 8 cohort. Performing Arts continue to be popular at JC with many former pupils now studying at top UK drama schools and universities.”
“Our partnership with ArtsEd is enabling us to link together all aspects of the performing arts at WIS. We have music, dance and drama, and ArtsEd for us is the missing link to join them all onstage. We have now had over 130 students involved in our West End showcase performance and the buzz around the arts is incredible. This partnership has enabled all of our students in the middle and upper school a chance to work with professionals from all backgrounds of performing. The partnership has also allowed students the chance to perform in small and large groups to an appreciative audience. It was clear that a lot of our students were challenged during the performance week, working out of their comfort zone, but they are all now much more confident and engaged with performance. As a teacher, I have found the experience valuable, as I’ve been able to work alongside professionals and learn from them. Performing arts at WIS are becoming increasingly popular, with growing numbers of students involved in ECAs such as our school choir, dance groups and student bands. We are happy to say we now plan to offer IB Theatre Studies this year along with IB Music.”