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Flashes of inspiration: The arts

The arts have long enjoyed a golden age at South Hampstead. Many of our former pupils have gone on to forge successful careers in the creative arts, as professional musicians, renowned actors, theatre directors, prize-winning artists and authors.

The Senior School provides the ideal environment for the creative to thrive, from the physical surroundings to workshops with poets, writers and artists-in-residence to the regular concerts and performances. In the bright, new building designed by the award-winning Hopkins Architects, in the Hampstead Murals by Gillian Ayres that adorn the atrium, and in bold works of modern art that embody the colourful, quirky and pioneering spirit of the school, there is an inspirational backdrop to everything that happens in the Senior School.

In the four art studios, specialised facilities give girls full rein to experiment across the fine arts spectrum, from film-making and sculpture to life-drawing and ceramics. Collections of their finished work, as well as occasional visiting exhibitions, are showcased in a dedicated gallery space. Trips to Japan, Florence, New York and the Venice Biennale help fuel students’ knowledge and ideas.

In music, the Senior School offers a real sense of ambition as well as fun. All girls, regardless of their experience, are encouraged to flourish as musicians. It starts in Year 7 when girls get the chance to compose digital music and explore unusual instruments with a free half term of lessons from our brilliant visiting music teachers. By the time they reach Year 11, more than half our students play at least one instrument to Grade 5 or higher. Opportunities to perform come thick and fast through dozens of choirs, orchestras, ensembles and chamber groups. Our hugely gifted Music Scholars regularly perform at lunchtime recitals and teatime concerts, and frequently win local and national competitions. Our Grade 1 Challenge gives Sixth Form musicians the opportunity to teach their academic teachers to play an instrument from scratch – an edifying experience for pupils and staff alike.

Drama has always been strong here – and it’s just as much about performing behind the scenes as on-stage, from lunchtime ‘theatre tech’ clubs and masterclasses with external practitioners to auditioning for starring roles in major, ambitious productions. Speaking up and speaking out is encouraged from the earliest years: we have an in-house debating coach and a strong track record in a range of public speaking competitions.

Staff stories

Miss Becky Stern
Assistant Head, Digital Strategy
I want to encourage our pupils to engage critically with the digital world – to be both digitally literate and responsible.
Passionate about equipping pupils for the future, Miss Stern has recently completed an MA in Educational Innovation. As well as teaching Drama, she champions the integration of new technology, to complement and underpin outstanding learning.
47
Music concerts performed in 2017
38
music scholars
55%
students play instruments at Grade 5 or higher

Music a strong point with numerous opportunities at all levels... ambitious concerts and recitals large and small.

The Good Schools Guide
Sixth Form