Saturday 17 July 2010

iPad blogging

This is my first post using the BlogPress app for the iPad. The large screen size and built in keyboard make the iPad perfect for blogging and this app makes the best use of its features. It's easy to set up, integrates well with various blogging platforms (although not Tumblr) and allows you to lay out images as you'd like it to appear online.

I've been reflecting on the recent successes of our specialist status today. A couple of weeks ago we held a private view of art & design work by post 16 students. Unlike previous years we decided this year to combine the work of students from four different courses - A level fine art, photography and product design and BTEC art & design. We also handed over the responsibility of curating the show to our artist in residence. The resulting show was a real testament to the diversity of talent amongst our students and the acceptance that there is no hierarchy of esteem for these courses.

Last week we staged two evening events entitled 'Past, Present & Future'. They were designed to provide a platform for the creativity evident in all areas of the arts at Tallis but also to encourage the audience to reflect on the relationship between creative learning and physical space. Much of the activity was centred on our concourse, a street that runs through the centre of the school. We aimed to create a festival of events and to engage the audience with competing delights. We had healthy audiences on both nights and the student performers often appeared to be running the show, ushering audience members to various places and making the most of the various impromptu stages. We showcased work resulting from two performing arts residencies (Tangled Feet theatre company and Dance Spinner) and screened the world premiere of a film written, directed by and starring our students. We have received lots of really positive feedback from the audiences on both nights, complimenting the school on its innovative approach and ability to surprise and delight.

On Friday we discovered that we had been re-designated as a specialist arts college for a further three years. This is great news and means that we can continue to use the arts to impact on the whole school curriculum using a mixture of teachers, assistants, technicians and visiting practitioners. It also means the support that we give our family of schools and various community organizations will continue. This confirmation comes shortly after we received the Ofsted report confirming that Thomas Tallis is a good school and one in which specialist status has had a demonstrably positive impact on learning.

Much of the innovative work we have done this term has been funded from our School of Creativity budget. We don't yet know how long this funding will last but we have consolidated our commitment to promoting creative learning by appointing a new Assistant Headteacher with this as his central responsibility. We have new heads of music and art & design starting in September, both of whom have expressed their support for our collective vision for the school as a creative hub for the local community. This summer we are hosting Felix's School of Rock at Tallis and co-ordinating a creativity summer school in partnership with Kidbrooke School and Emergency Exit Arts. We will be appearing in the Thames Festival parade and, in October, hosting a visit from an entire company of Kathakali artists from Southern India as part of our Black History Month celebrations.

I was fortunate enough to visit the site of the new school last week. Having been involved in the design of the building in the early stages, it was a real pleasure to see the building under construction and to appreciate the scale of the structure. It's a huge building with fantastic facilities. The arts are co-located, unlike the present building, and we have massively increased our capacity to host large scale events in state-of-the-art surroundings. It's been an incredible year in which so much has changed. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with such an inspiring, hard-working and creative team of professionals. I also feel very sure that the specialist arts subjects will continue to make a hugely positive impact on the success of the whole school next year and beyond.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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