Home schooling arts lessons

Lockdown lessons in the arts are thriving at one of Harrogate’s independent schools, thanks to a combination of creativity and technology.

Thursday, 21st May 2020, 10:35 am

The sudden and unexpected advent of home schooling has seen Ashville College’s heads of music, drama and art exploring new and exciting methods to teach their pupils.

Deputy Head Academic, Ian Kendrick said: “During these unprecedented times, Ashville’s teaching staff are ensuring lessons remain engaging, stimulating and innovative.

“Our staff and pupils had to react very quickly to the challenges brought by home schooling, but I’m delighted to say they adapted very quickly to this new experience, and the pupils’ work continues to astound. They have all risen to the challenge superbly.”

The last seven weeks have seen Director of Music, Anna Wilby, become an expert in online music production.

This has helped her pupils to make and record a number of songs as a ‘virtual choir’ marking VE Day, including We’ll Meet Again, and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square for the opening of the town’s NHS Nightingale Hospital.

DVDs of the recordings have been delivered to two local care homes to help entertain residents.

Individual music lessons, for pupils learning an array of instruments, have also continued through the power of video link via Microsoft Teams.

Meanwhile, under the direction of Head of Drama, Karl Boyd, Year 10 pupils have devised their exam piece and have worked collaboratively to write the script on a shared Microsoft Word Document.

Now finished, the class is doing a virtual read-through whereby the pupils – who sit their GCSEs next year - are recording their own lines into a shared studio project app.

This sparked some great ideas for physical theatre work using the recorded voices when they return to the actual drama studio.

The use of this app has also inspired Mr Boyd to develop some practical group work with his Year 9 classes.

Pupils have started a new topic of Theatre in Education and they have worked individually to research relevant and appropriate subjects for a show to their Year 5 counterparts.

Mr Boyd is hosting video conference lessons with each class and teaching them the conventions of radio drama.

Following this, they will be writing a radio play for Year 5s and recording their input remotely as groups.

Upper Sixth pupils have completed course work.

They have delighted the Head of Art, Simon Brook, by deciding to complete their exam pieces – which were deemed no longer necessary by the exam board - for their own personal satisfaction and reward, and to finish their coursework in style.

Two students have already gained entry to Loughborough University and Leeds Arts University based on their portfolios.

Lower Sixth Art pupils have been sitting a planned mock A Level exam entitled Journey.

They are uploading their progress on a weekly basis – through assignments on Microsoft Teams, with the mock exam being ‘sat’ over the final three weeks of the summer term.

A Pinterest board - created before the lockdown and which now has 1,200 followers – is being used for them to post different aspects of their work, and for Mr Brook and his art department colleagues, to offer both formative assessment and feedback.

All Year 8 pupils participating in a totem pole design project, meanwhile, were given a small bag of clay so they can design their own using their own symbolic animals.

They were also given a demonstration on how to make a clay pipe. All the pieces will be dried and fired at school at a later date.

The school’s textiles club continues online and members are currently undertaking a ‘Stuffed Felt Cacti Project’.