Society is increasingly visually and digitally literate. Studying the arts prepares students to understand and participate fully in this world. Southbank has a challenging visual art, music and drama programme that is implemented through a variety of classroom and specialist instructors.
Through the arts, students can develop a sense of self, engaging in a creative cycle of experimentation, action and reflection. They will be stimulated to think and articulate their thoughts in new ways and through a variety of media and technologies. Collaboration between specialist and classroom teachers is central to the implementation of the arts in the Primary Years Programme.
In the Middle Years Programme, teaching of the Arts becomes more individualised and comprehensive. In Grades 6-8, students study one trimester each of Drama, Visual Arts and Music. In Grades 9 and 10, students may choose a specialised arts course.
During the two year Diploma Programme, a series of standard and higher level creative arts programmes that are as competitive as they are engaging. This includes Film Studies, Theatre Arts, Visual Arts and Music.
As learning in the Arts is largely experiential, the Westminster Arts faculty runs a large number of field trips each year, along with a sparkling range of extra-curricular activities, such as Drama club, Textile club, Concert Band, String Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, Choirs and specialised chamber music groups. In recent years we have produced several full-scale musicals, such as Little Shop of Horrors, Grease and The Wizard of Oz.
Visual Art students have the opportunity to function as artists themselves, as well as learning about the important artworks and techniques. They learn to be curious and analytical, and through the development of these skills they learn about themselves, others and the world. They become creative problem-solvers and adept at critiquing the work of others. Students develop their artistic abilities through creating art in ways that engage and convey feelings, experiences and ideas. Students acquire and develop new skills in drawing, painting, sculpting, photography and printmaking.
The Visual Arts DP course gives students the freedom to explore and experiment with a variety of methods and art forms to represent and develop ideas for a final art show, which is held at a professional gallery. Alongside their own pieces of art, students build on the MYP and examine and analyse techniques and contexts of great artworks. This analysis helps them to write their own curatorial rationale for their own works in the final exhibition. Visual Art graduates go into careers in the arts, product/design, architecture, advertising and multimedia design.
MYP Drama develops the creative skills needed to work towards performing a visually and aurally stimulating piece of drama work. Exploring ideas through a range of techniques such as improvisation, mime, slow motion, thoughts aloud, and breaking the fourth wall, students work independently and collaboratively to rehearse, refine and challenge themselves artistically. Engaging with music, art, lighting and sound effects further enhances performance work. Students are encouraged to be autonomous, free-thinking and open-minded. DP Theatre deepens students’ exploration and performance skills as actors, directors and designers, alongside a rigorous, exciting exploration, analysis and enjoyment of Theatre from a wide range of styles, practitioners and theatre companies. Having access to the best theatre performances and workshops available, students are offered a myriad of opportunities to practically enhance their learning. Theatre graduates are highly sought after, as they can demonstrate the ability to be flexible, be excellent problem solvers with lateral and quick thinking skills, empathetic communicators, courageous risk takers and to work to strict deadlines as part of a tight-knit ensemble.
The Film course at DP enables students to fully engage with the practical, theoretical and conceptual aspects of filmmaking. To open their eyes to what is possible, they discuss and analyse a range of film texts, from Francois Truffaut to Stanley Kubrick, from Wong Kar Wai to Abbas Kiarostami. Students learn how to tell a story visually, write a script and plan a production schedule, use a lighting kit and sound recording equipment, and how to edit and create the final cut. This is a subject that relies on collaboration, and students will learn to work as a team and hone their technique while developing their interpersonal and other life skills, that will assist in a wide range of career options.
From Kindergarten, our distinctive Suzuki programme enhances the music curriculum, introducing children to their first violin or cello. Children make fast progress and all children from Kindergarten upwards take part in our joint primary annual summer concert – over 350 children playing together in the historic setting of the Central Westminster Hall!
Once children have reached a level of proficiency there are opportunities to play in ensembles or Suzuki Strings. From Grade 4, guitar, trumpet and flute are also available. All children take part in our termly solo concerts for parents and peers.
MYP music classes focus on the creative and technical skills needed to produce a new piece of musical artwork. Each topic asks students to compose, perform and reflect, gives exposure to music from different times and places, and often gives opportunities to engage with music technology. A range of exciting field trips to concerts and workshops utilises London as one of the musical capitals of the world. DP music offers students the chance to deepen their performance and/or composition skills, alongside exploration, enjoyment and analysis of music from every corner of the globe, from the ancient world through to the most recent developments in popular modern music. Music graduates are highly sought after, as they can demonstrate the ability to work as a team, to be quick-thinking, creative, flexible, risk takers, to research, write and analyse, to work to strict deadlines and to engage with audio/multimedia in a range of formats.
Westminster also offers a wide variety of private music lessons, provided as an additional chargeable option. We currently give lessons in flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, drum kit, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, theory and voice.
For detailed information about the arts programme at Southbank, please view our curriculum guides below.