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Are there any Whitgift parents around who could answer a question?

(19 Posts)
TheatreTaxi Fri 24-Feb-17 14:29:11

We are looking for an academic senior school with very strong drama provision for DS (currently Y5) - ideally a school that values students talented at performing arts and with a history of supporting those who want to pursue drama degrees post-sixth form.

Whitgift has been suggested as a possibility (for 13+ entry), but I'm confused by the information I have found on the school's website about drama.

The description of co-curricular drama sounds fantastic and the school offers drama scholarships, which suggests to me that theatre arts are valued and popular.

However when looking at their recent GCSE and A level results for the past few years, only a handful of students tend to take Drama at GCSE, and no-one appears to have taken A level Drama for several years, despite it being on offer in their A-level syllabus. I can't reconcile this with a school that specifically offers drama scholarships!

Can any current or recent Whitgift parents shed any light on the discrepancy?

AveEldon Fri 24-Feb-17 18:54:58

Are you looking to move at 11+ or 13+?
Have you considered the Brit School?

Seeline Fri 24-Feb-17 19:03:00

Don't know about Whitgift, but Trinity (also in Croydon and part of the same foundation) also do drama scholarships. 19 took GSSE last year and 4 at A level. I don't know about degrees though.

MagicMarkers Fri 24-Feb-17 21:36:13

Perhaps parents paying nearly £20K per year aren't keen on their children doing an A-level in drama.

TheatreTaxi Fri 24-Feb-17 22:19:50

AveEldon and Seeline, thank you. We live too far from Croydon to make a daily commute feasible (we're in North London), so Whitgift is only a possibility because of the weekly boarding option. I do like the look of Trinity, but it's just too far to travel.

MagicMarkers, are you a Whitgift parent? If so, your attitude goes a long way to explaining the lack of A level Drama students at the school. I would have no problem with DS taking a Drama A level as part of a fee-paying education, because it is his passion, he's bloody good at it and is set on some sort of career in theatre/performance.

He also happens to have an equal flair and passion for a core humanities subject. Are you suggesting that one of his talents is "worth" paying to foster but the other isn't?

AveEldon Sat 25-Feb-17 07:51:52

Ah now I see why you are looking at 13+
The school certainly has a vast array of drama productions
I can't comment on the GSCE/A level stats although for GSCE there are around 25 options and they take an average of 10 each

Have you visited the school and talked to the drama department?

Have you looked at the league tables to see where else lots of students take drama exams?
Some info here

ATruthUniversallyAcknowledged Sat 25-Feb-17 07:58:02

Emanuel School has a good reputation for drama.

LIZS Sat 25-Feb-17 09:00:33

Most independents offer drama scholarships so I would have thought there would be more local options for your ds. Have a look at the websites of schools in north London/ Home Counties to see what their drama and performing arts programme is, including in-house performances, LAMDA exams, trips, facilities. Dd is taking Drama gcse but very few go on to do A level as it is hard to score top grades and isn't a facilitating subject.

AnotherNewt Sat 25-Feb-17 09:05:03

Where in north London?

If on the overground, do look at Emanuel (who are extremely good, and who are thoroughly supportive of pupils who go to work in the Wedt End and in films).

I would also suggest Dulwich - because they offer theatre studies at A level and get very good results. And boys can board there too.

MagicMarkers Sat 25-Feb-17 18:30:02

I'm not a Whitgift parent, but I know a few boys there.

I do think that it's a bit early to choose A-level subjects and degree subject for a 9/10 year old.

beyondbelief Sat 25-Feb-17 19:22:17

At GCSE the criteria to take Drama are relatively strict (must have had a lead role in a recent production, must attend Drama Society every week, preference given to boys who attend the weekend performing arts programme etc) before a boy will be considered for Drama at GCSE. So the number of boys who qualify for that is relatively limited.

Equally at A level, Drama is still not considered a facilitating subject, so even boys who have done well at GCSE and who participate in the wide range of Drama activities throughout the sixth-form may choose not to actually take it at A level.

Theatre arts are very, very well supported and encouraged at Whitgift, and many boys go on to careers in the performing arts. They just may not have a Drama A level!

Mary21 Sat 25-Feb-17 20:04:54

You don't need drama a level to go to drama school or to do drama at uni

sazzy5 Sat 25-Feb-17 21:31:54

Reeds Cobham?

TheatreTaxi Mon 27-Feb-17 10:55:07

Thanks for all the responses.

Emanuel has already been recommended to us, so it is useful to hear that endorsed here.

LIZS, drama scholarships don't seem to be offered by many London day schools north of the river, especially for boys, hence widening the search.

MagicMarkers, just to be clear, I am not choosing A level subjects and degrees for my 10-y-o. I am looking for schools that will provide the broadest range of options for him, including the option to keep pursuing drama if that's what he still wants to do when the time comes.

beyondbelief, that is really helpful information, thank you. The weekend performing arts programme looks very good. Do you happen to know if many boys from the school attend it? Is it affiliated with the school's drama department or a separate enterprise?

AnotherNewt Mon 27-Feb-17 12:57:18

I've just had a look on the website. Emanuel registrations for 11+ entry in 2018 are already full (600 applicants) and closed.

beyondbelief Thu 02-Mar-17 20:58:48

To be honest I don't know what the proportion of Whitgift boys to 'outside' participants is, although I know it is popular within the school. It's separate from the drama dept I think, but there is plenty of crossover as WAVPA teachers get involved in school productions, etc.

I really don't think you can go far wrong with Whitgift if you want an academic school with very strong drama. Your ds will be very well supported and encouraged, and will have myriad opportunities (can he sing too?) I will admit to bias, but it's well worth considering, particularly if you need a flexible boarding system too.

TheatreTaxi Fri 03-Mar-17 08:57:18

We are looking at 13+ entry so should still be alright with Emanuel as they don't pretest and only take registrations the year prior to entry.

beyondbelief, thank you for the additional information, that's very helpful. The WAVPA classes look good and the staff list is impressive. DS does sing (though musical theatre rather than classical) and I have heard music provision at Whitgift is good. Do you happen to know what the school's attitude is towards children who perform professionally? DS has worked in a couple of professional productions (he's doing a stint in a West End show at the moment) and although opportunities tend to decrease once children reach the age of 14, we'd prefer a school that wasn't completely opposed to the idea of professional work if DS wants to continue.

mumsiedarlingrevolta Fri 03-Mar-17 09:05:07

I would also add that Drama A level not always the entry to career.

My DS best friend was doing GCSE Drama at a big Independent school and was cast in a low-ish budget film in another country after huge amount of competition.

He was advised by the director not to do A level Drama but to do other academic ones and get a rounded education.

So lots of different ways of doing drama as a career....

beyondbelief Fri 03-Mar-17 20:46:50

Yes, there are a few boys in ds's year group who do/have done professional theatre, film or tv work. At least one of his friends has an agent. There's not an issue with boys taking professional jobs, and in fact they promote that on the website, although obviously it would be done in partnership with the school in terms of keeping up with work etc.

I really wouldn't let the lack of Drama A level put you off, as others have said I think it's a bit of a red herring. If he can sing too he will have endless opportunities there (they love a bit of musical theatre!)

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