As the busy Spring Term comes to a close, members of staff and girls breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to the Easter break and the prospect of spending some quality time with friends and family. It feels like we have fitted in a record number of activities into the last four weeks! Here is just a small selection:
Science Week, World Book Day, the Year 2 Sleepover, the Spring Concert, Easter Egg Bingo, the Geography Field Trip to Devon, the KS3 Dance Performance and Year 9 Choreography Competition and numerous sporting fixtures including Year 3 playing their first ever hockey match.
The list is impressive! Further details can be found on our social media pages and website (details at the end of my blog). As the term draws to a close, we are looking forward to the Celebration of Sport Assembly and the “Saint Martin’s Got Talent” competition.
In my last blog I wrote about the importance of sport and physical exercise. In this blog I would like to share my thoughts on the importance of Music in the school curriculum. Earlier this year I was sad to read on the BBC News App that “Music ‘could face extinction’ as a subject in secondary schools in England”. Music and other creative arts subjects such as Drama and Dance are being squeezed from the school curriculum in state schools because of pressure on pupils to take subjects included in the “EBacc” school league table measure. The English Baccalaureate or EBacc was brought in by the coalition government in 2010 for pupils achieving GCSE Grade C or better in English, Maths, the Sciences, a language and Geography or History. The percentages of pupils entering and achieving the EBacc are among several measures used by government to determine a school’s performance. Critics say this increase has come at the expense of the Creative Arts, with just 47% of pupils being entered for at least one Arts subject in 2016. Even more worrying, the number of schools offering Music at GCSE Level has fallen to 76%.
The Creative Arts are an integral element of providing pupils with a broad and balanced education. We are fortunate in the independent sector that we have the freedom to determine how our curriculum time is allocated. At Saint Martin’s we are proud of the fact that girls in all key stages are taught Music, Drama and Dance by subject specialists. In addition to the timetabled lessons, there are a wide variety of extra-curricular clubs ranging from orchestras, choirs, dance clubs and drama groups, giving our girls the opportunity to enjoy the Arts at lunchtime and after school.
As educationalists we have seen a growing emphasis on ensuring our pupils leave school with a skill set that enables them to maintain good mental health and physical well-being. The Arts play a vital role in this regard, be it through music, dance or drama opportunities. It has been said that Music can help improve everything from memory to breathing and promotes transferable skills. Learning an instrument helps encourage independent learning because of the emphasis is on the individual to practise. In addition to this, this type of learning helps a child to improve their analytical, mathematical, organisational and teamwork skills. Singing (whether it be individually or as a member of a choir) has huge power to improve physical and mental well-being. It releases muscle tension, reduces stress levels and depression, and has even been shown to help in maintaining a healthy immune system. Communal singing also offers a great sense of community, and the chance to build life-long friendships.
I would like to end my blog with some quotations about the importance of Music written by philosophers from around the world.
By the time you read this blog I will be en-route to Iceland accompanying the A Level and GCSE Geographers and Miss Bednall and Miss Timson. I hope you all have a restful Easter break and I look forward to seeing you all at the start of the Summer Term.