Head of Downe House, Emma McKendrick, tells us why creative subjects play an imperative role in preparing pupils for today’s fast-changing world
It is very hard for us to be sure what the working environment will be like for our pupils. What we are clear about is that it will be different, and the pace of change and the speed with which technology advances will not slow down. In order to thrive in every way, our young people will need to be creative, adaptable, resilient and able to express themselves effectively.
The place of creative subjects – Art, Drama, Dance, Music, Textiles, Design and Technology – has therefore never been more important and is an area of the curriculum that is extremely important at Downe. One of our pupils expressed recently to an inspector that studying Art “gave her a window into the beauty of the world”. It made her stop, look at the world thoughtfully and with care; it helped her to interpret it and appreciate it. It also enabled others to see it through her different eyes. She, in turn, could appreciate others’ views.
These subjects also provide a healthy outlet for self-expression and enable problem-solving skills, perseverance and resilience to be developed – the wooden box that does not quite close will require the right solution to be found to make it work. Effective teamwork will be found at the heart of every successful dance routine, play, orchestral or choral piece, and each individual involved will have to have the humility to enable and encourage others to shine.
All girls at Downe House study all of the creative and performing arts during Years 7 to 9 as part of the mandatory curriculum; they can then choose whether to follow any for GCSE or beyond, or they can choose to join one of the range of creative clubs, take individual lessons and/or participate in the very popular House Competitions – House Drama, House Music, House Dance and House Art.
I have no doubt that Downe House is a kinder, healthier, more interesting and more generous-spirited community as a result of all that these subjects teach our pupils. I am equally sure that our pupils are better prepared for their world as a result of the creativity that is encouraged, and that the sense of awe and wonder about the world that will have been gained will be a precious gift of fulfilment and joy that will last a lifetime.