We encourage every pupil at College to express herself creatively and learn to work collaboratively. This is not only enjoyable, stimulating and rewarding in itself, but also helps to develop essential skills and self-confidence.
The options available are varied and plentiful, from opportunities within the curriculum to our wide-ranging co-curricular programme.
Art and design take place in an award-winning, contemporary building with exceptional facilities. Teaching focuses on the acquisition of techniques, skills and vocabulary in order to communicate and express ideas visually. Creativity, innovation and artistic talent are encouraged, along with taking creative risks and learning from mistakes. These skills are carried through to our co-curricular provision as well.
Textiles is embedded within art and design at College. The girls undertake practical activities to understand fabrics, construction and manufacturing skills, and appreciate the design process. The understanding and application of these skills in a commercial context, allows the girls to produce outstanding work at every level, from dresses for the Upcycled Fashion Show to preparation for Art-based university courses.
Our art teachers are well-qualified specialists who teach a variety of disciplines including oil-painting, print-making, ceramics, textiles, photography, mixed-media work and sculpture.
These activities are available to all pupils as part of the co-curricular programme, regardless of whether they pursue the subject as part of their academic studies.
Dance is a compulsory part of our sports and PE curriculum in LC1 and LC2 (Year 7 and 8) and can be continued as an option from LC3 (Year 9) upwards. All students have the opportunity to sign up for dance classes as part of our co-curricular provision.
We cater for a wide range of styles and abilities and all our lessons promote inclusion, physical fitness, enjoyment and social interaction. No previous dance experience is required and students can choose to work towards being entered for exams (RAD or ISTD). We also invite professional dancers and companies to deliver workshops and performances.
There is an annual dance performance staged at our purpose-built theatre in the Parabola Arts Centre, most recently The Nutcracker Princess. This year the Dance, Drama and Music Departments will be collaborating on the bi-annual musical, which will be Billy Elliot. Other opportunities for students to perform include the annual International Society Gala, the Talent Show organised by our Sixth Form and our annual inter-house dance battle.
In 2022, students also took part in the dance performance to open King’s Square in Gloucester, and worked with a choreographer at the Cheltenham Town Hall, accompanied by the Gloucestershire Symphony Orchestra.
We have a long tradition of creating exciting and thought-provoking theatre. Whether acting, directing or supporting productions in our 325-seat Parabola Arts Centre (PAC) theatre, or engaging in professional workshops, drama is a diverse and inspiring part of College life.
The Drama Department stages four main productions each year, and pupils from every year group can audition for at least one. Students often assist behind the scenes, directing or as part of our technical crew, supervised by the PAC technical manager and technician. Recent productions have included: Things I Know To Be True, Toybox Tales and Living with Lady Macbeth, as well as our annual Open-Air Shakespeare Festival.
Students are able to study for Trinity and LAMDA acting, musical theatre and communication exams with our visiting drama teachers. Every year students across Upper College and Sixth Form College (Years 10 -13) are successful in gaining places on the National Youth Theatre Acting, Technical and/or Musical Theatre courses.
Every week during term, more than 1,000 individual music lessons and ensembles take place within the Music Department. This is all the more amazing as no pupil misses an academic lesson to attend a music lesson. A tremendous range of instruments is taught by more than 40 permanent or visiting staff and many girls also take exams (ABRSM or LCM).
The diversity of music-making is a joy for all. The talents of our keen and skilled musicians are on display at the five main annual concerts, Scholars’ Concerts and our popular House Music Competition, as well as during events such as masterclasses and other competitions. The Princess Hall seats is used for major music concerts, while our smaller lunchtime concerts take place across College.
We have also recently expanded the number of public concerts we give, staging events in Chapel Arts and Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham, and at Tewkesbury Abbey. Our major overseas tours take place biennially, usually in the first week of the summer holidays. Recent tours have taken us to Venice, Tuscany and Umbria, Emilia Romagna, Provence, Andalusia and Catalonia. Over the past few years, the choir has also sung in St. Paul's Cathedral, St. George's Chapel, Salisbury Cathedral, Eton College Chapel and York Minster.
In recent years, College has invested in music facilities, including a recording studio and practice rooms on the main site and in the Houses, as well as a dedicated rehearsal space for student-led bands with guitars, amps, pianos, drums and microphones.
College also offers students Alexander Technique lessons to help with their general wellbeing, as well as with their performance in music, drama and sport.