The Highest Performers

Music, dance and drama are an important element for students at Westholme School, which has a new collaboration with the prestigious National Youth Orchestra, writes Meena McDonald

An equal value on everything’, is the foundation on which Westholme School is built. Each area of the curriculum, along with a vast array of extra-curricular activities, deliver equal value to each student throughout their school life.

Performing Arts is one fundamental element of Westholme’s DNA, which provides students with lifelong transferrable skills.

Dr Richard Robson, Principal at Westholme School, who himself trained professionally at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, is fully committed to enabling the Performing Arts to continue to be a centre of excellence and the market leader for music, drama and dance in the region.

A number of creative initiatives are already underway to achieve this, but first and foremost the school is delighted after a two-year break, to revive its legendary annual show. Guaranteed to be a truly spectacular show with West End quality performances from incredibly talented students, this year’s Sound of Music production will undoubtedly be a night to remember. A considerable amount of thought and effort is put into the performance, not only by the exceptional young performers, but through the use of expert technicians using the new professional sound desk and state-of-the-art sound rig the school has recently installed.

Many of the gifted performers use this opportunity to express their talents and ambitions through the stage whilst continuing to have a passion for a range of other subjects such as maths, science, languages, humanities, sports, creative arts and technology. Key skills acquired through performing help build the students’ confidence and this in turn can be drawn upon throughout their lives and utilised in their chosen career paths.

Drama is not where it stops at Westholme though. For the first time ever, the school is introducing Dance at GCSE, opening up even more possibilities for students. When they pick their GCSE options in Year 9, Westholme’s approach is totally unique. The school doesn’t stipulate that pupils must take a language or humanities at GCSE, they give a free choice, thus allowing students more choice to hone their skills in subjects they are truly passionate about.

Dr Robson is an enormous advocate of providing every student at Westholme with the essential 21st century transferrable skills which will benefit them throughout their lives. Having started his early career on stage with the National Youth Theatre, Dr Robson comments: “You cannot put a value on the skills you learn whilst performing on stage, ranging from confidence, leadership and communication to adaptability, creativity and teamwork. All of these skills support every aspect of life, and our pupils’ future careers.”

The school is proud to have developed a new collaboration with the prestigious National Youth Orchestra. During a weekend in early June, Westholme hosted the National Youth Orchestra which ran training and taster sessions over the course of the two days. Westholme musicians were unbelievably excited to be involved with the esteemed national organisation. However, the programme didn’t just include Westholme musicians but the school opened its doors to talented musicians from other schools in the region along with many county musical schools. A huge amount of creative flair was brought to the forefront during the two days with many students inspired to take their talents further.

To reinforce their commitment to Performing Arts, Westholme has appointed Mrs Amy Holland, a graduate from the Royal Northern College of Music who joins the school in September to commandeer the helm of the already outstanding music, dance and drama departments. Her role will be overseeing four to 18 year olds and taking full responsibility for the success of Performing Arts across the whole school – from Prep to the INSPIRED Sixth Form.

Dr Robson explains: “Amy is joining us as Director of Performing Arts at such a momentous time as the new Prep opens and we head into the school’s centenary celebrations. Her creative talents along with her insatiable drive and ambition will ensure we remain at the forefront of Performing Arts in the North West.”

Another initiative the school has committed to is enhancing the number of Performing Arts Scholarships that are available for those with ability in music, dance and drama. Dr Robson urges anyone who has a child talented in Performing Arts, to get in touch and apply for these additional places.

Dr Robson concludes: “We are so proud of what we have here at Westholme, a combination of immense talent along with a nurturing environment and professional facilities, which benefit every student at the school. Our philosophy of creating a truly holistic provision has resulted in a warm, balanced and aspirational environment.”

If you’re inspired and want to learn more about the Performing Arts Scholarships at this truly amazing school, please contact:

Westholme School
Wilmar Lodge, Meins Road
Blackburn BB2 6QU
01254 506070



Tedd Walmsley

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