An education at RGS involves more than just getting good grades. Our students’ experience of the Arts is a key part of their journey through the School and is woven through the curricular and co-curricular programmes. The standard of many of our artists, writers and musicians is high, and our Sixth Formers regularly gain entrance to prestigious conservatoires and art schools. Participation, though, is valued above all as a way of broadening horizons, discovering new interests and talents, and developing skills alongside students from across the full age-range.
Our Music department has a high profile not just within the school but also in the wider community. We’ve been shortlisted for the “Outstanding Music Department” in the national Music and Drama Education Awards for the past two years, and our students are encouraged to participate in music from the moment they start in Year 7. As a result, we have one of the largest school choirs in the region with around 200 students singing every week, alongside a chamber choir and several close harmony groups. Over 250 music lessons take place each week with our team of more than 20 specialist instrumental and vocal tutors, inspiring musicians to take part in our wind bands, Jazz groups, and string and chamber ensembles. Our calendar of events includes a traditional Carol Service, outdoor Jazz and a House Music competition, and our groups perform Choral Evensong at Oxford University and tour Salzburg in the summer. The annual school musical is a highlight of the year with RGS pupils working alongside a professional director and choreographer as well as young people from over 10 neighbouring schools. Recent productions include “West Side Story”, “In The Heights” and “School of Rock”.
We also offer a huge range of opportunities in the visual arts. Separate GCSEs in Fine Art and Graphic Communication allow our students to approach the creative process from the direction that suits them best. Initiatives such as the Art department’s “Digging Up the Past”, which involves studying artefacts at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum in conjunction with the History department, and the “Day of the Dead” project with Spanish, encourage students to understand how art lies at the centre of the curriculum. Our annual Creative Industries event brings together a range of guest speakers, including architects, film-makers, and race-track designers, to discuss their work and explore how the skills developed in the arts are applicable across a range of careers. The recent introduction of the highly-respected Arts Award programme, administered by the Arts Council and Trinity College, London, has proved a great success, with more than 40 pupils now working towards Bronze or Silver Awards. The Awards are overseen by our Artist in Residence, a professional ceramics artist, who also works on a daily basis with students from Key Stage 3 to A Level, passing on his knowledge and skills and allowing the Art department to take risks and move beyond the traditional focus on painting and drawing.
The achievements of our students in the Arts are celebrated in two student-led School publications: the Arts-focused MADE (Music, Art, Drama and English) magazine, and the school newspaper, the RGS Gazette. Both are issued three times a year and provide an outlet for budding writers, editors, photographers and designers to produce high-quality journalism