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New partnership broadens arts education

Amid arts and creativity being squeezed from the school curriculum, Sunderland College has established an exciting new partnership with a local secondary school to ensure pupils can access arts education.

Sunderland College has teamed up with Thornhill Academy to run a drama and dance company for over 20 pupils, which will take place at the school every Wednesday afternoon.

The initiative, which will run until the end of the academic year, will culminate in a final performance at the Arts Academy Theatre at Sunderland College. The pupils will participate in an end of year final project alongside performing arts students from the College.

Sheree Rymer, Curriculum Manager for Creative Arts at Sunderland College, said:

“The interest from schools wanting to work in partnership with us to ensure the arts is represented in the curriculum offer has been overwhelming. It is a clear indication that keeping curriculum academically focused, does not cater for those students who want to broaden their skills. With this new partnership, the College is attempting to bridge that gap.

“This new partnership shows the resilience of the arts in Sunderland and how there are young people who want to study the creative arts alongside more academic subjects.”

An increased emphasis on core academic subjects, along with funding pressures, means that secondary schools are cutting back on resources for creative subjects.

The pupils taking part in the drama workshops at Thornhill Academy are currently rehearsing for the musical Blood Brothers. Jonathan Wharton, Drama Lecturer at Sunderland College, said:

“The school pupils at Thornhill Academy have expressed a real appetite for the arts. Unfortunately, these pupils have not had the opportunity to take drama within their curriculum and therefore do not see it as a prospective career path. Their ability is developing week by week as they rehearse for their performance of Blood Brothers.

“Through their rehearsals they are gaining and developing transferable skills that can be used, not only within drama, but within further studies and life itself. It’s amazing to see the students at Thornhill Academy flourish in confidence and mindfulness, challenging themselves to achieve the highest standard in a subject they are passionate about.”

Lauren Robinson, Dance Lecturer at Sunderland College, is delivering the dance workshop at Thornhill Academy. She said:

“By introducing weekly creative classes at Thornhill Academy, which are proven to help with the growth and maturity of many fundamental and transferrable skills, it has enabled the school pupils to acquire new techniques in dance and drama.

“I have encouraged them to express themselves through the art of movement in commercial and contemporary dance styles, and they are currently preparing for a final major collaborative performance with our Sunderland College students at the end of the academic year.

“I am very impressed with the standard and talent so far; the students have demonstrated individuality and confidence and have all expressed their excitement towards the final dance performance in May. It is an excellent opportunity to work in partnership with local secondary schools as it offers a new lifeline for dance in education.”

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