| Head's Blog

As the summer term comes into view, the annual challenge of the timetable for the next academic year begins to loom large. Whilst you might think in this day of apps, that this would be a simple matter of inputting information into a computer and pressing a button, this is far from the case! However, before starting to construct, we look at the overall shape and balance of the subjects. The curriculum in any school is likely to evolve year on year, as future employment and society’s needs make changing demands on the next generation’s skillsets. A ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum is the over-arching requirement of inspection – although exactly how this is to be achieved, and what it should look like, is left open to interpretation by each individual school. At Sherborne House, our over-arching school aim is that our children will be provided with a ‘stimulating and exciting education, with wide-ranging opportunities to investigate, explore and grow intellectually, morally, spiritually, socially and physically.’ Inevitably, our greatest dilemma is centred around the weighting between subjects which offer academic rigour and challenge and prepare for senior school entry, and those which stimulate creativity and enrich the spirit, often called ‘softer’ subjects.

Susan Hallam, from the Institute of Education at the University of London, believes music is as important a subject for schoolchildren to study as English or maths. "Music exerts a powerful impact on our lives and is as important for a well-rounded education as reading, writing and maths," she said. “When children play music together, it teaches them about cooperation and working together." Her study also found that music helps concentration, aids relaxation and can influence moods and emotions.

Had there been any doubt of the validity of her argument, we had three excellent examples recently of the uplifting power of music and its benefits for children. Our Year 1 and Year 2 end of term Spring Productions were wonderful showcases of the self-confidence which musical performance develops. Whilst very different in theme and content, both demonstrated the power of performance to engage and enthuse. This was further evident on Monday evening, when members of Years 5 and 6 joined eight other Bellevue schools for a concert incorporating song, drama, instrumental solos and orchestral pieces and even cheerleading! No member of the audience, on any of these three occasions, could have doubted the intrinsic value of music and performance in engendering self-confidence, developing imagination and creativity, promoting inclusivity and teamwork and proving to children the outcomes to be had from hard work and perseverance.

Professor Hallan’s study concludes that music should be central to the school curriculum because it improves children's health and wellbeing. The children’s performances this term have been proof of the validity of this conclusion, and that a school’s curriculum must indeed offer, and promote, opportunities for self-expression, hand-in-hand with its academic programme. As Plato said: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Thank you to our children, who this week proved how very true this is, and gave us all such fun and joy.