Gallions School Prospectus
Gallions Primary School opened in September 1999. We are a community school for boys and girls aged 3 to 11 years of age. Our school has superb facilities, including a large hall, dining hall, music and drama room, a state of the art computer suite and library.
The governors and staff share a vision of the importance of the arts in educating young people. Many staff have expertise in the creative arts and all the staff are committed to developing their skills in all arts areas. This expertise is used to teach lessons through music, dance, drama and art that are exciting, meaningful and challenging for all pupils. We realise the importance of performing and the confidence it instils in children so all children participate in major productions each year.
We are determined that our children will be successful and will go on to secondary school as confident, highly educated pupils.
The philosophy of the school
Gallions was established to teach the curriculum creatively, using the arts. All teaching and support staff and governors share this aim. Everyone who works here believes that the arts are vital to our spiritual and intellectual development and well-being. We are not all experts in every art form but we are all willing to learn as much as possible, to undertake new challenges and to believe that, with good teaching and enough practice, our children will achieve their full potential.
Why do we teach through the arts?
We believe that everyone is capable of participating successfully in the arts. An arts-based curriculum engages the children’s interest, encourages creativity, thinking skills, co-operative working and positive behaviour. It addresses the different learning styles that children possess and makes the curriculum particularly accessible to the large number of children at Gallions who speak English as an additional language. The arts provide a level playing field where all can contribute and many will excel.
The effectiveness of the school
Visitors describe the atmosphere in school as serene and purposeful. We have very few behaviour problems. Children are happy, positive, confident and considerate individuals. Staff retention is exceptionally high. Policy makers, opinion formers, government agencies and ministers, educationalists and education authorities and the cultural and creative sectors approach us for advice and information.
The Vision for the future
Using materials developed by staff, pupils and governors, we have written the following headline statements for what we would like Gallions to be in the future:
- Gallions is a centre of excellence for arts including high quality facilities for all areas.
- Gallions is a leading school in arts education and a training centre in these specialist areas.
- Gallions is an extended school at the centre of the community.
- Gallions is a beautiful and inspiring eco-friendly school.
Delivering the Vision
The Gallions Vision and Five Year plan put the arts at its heart. We know that good work takes time so we plan a curriculum that will give teachers and pupils more time to investigate, think, discuss and record work, allowing the children to complete their work to a high standard. Our approach leaves teachers with less preparation and planning and therefore less stress.
To achieve this, we have rewritten all the schemes of work so that more than 80% of the curriculum can be taught in a cross-curricular way through the arts. For example, our research project on the Tudors involves creating Tudor music, Tudor dancing, portraits of the Tudor Kings and Queens and writing while in the role of Henry VIII. The arts based curriculum has been in place in all classes since September 2003.
More than just a curriculum
Children who perform regularly develop a sense of audience, the knowledge that there is a real reason for learning in school and increased confidence and co-operation. It is hugely pleasurable to perform to the best of one’s ability and to be praised for doing so.
Productions and Performances
Central to the life of the school are our regular productions of music, dance or drama. Children in Key Stages 1 and 2 perform to the public at least 6 times each academic year.
Artists in school
The arts based curriculum comes to life through regular contact our pupils have with arts professionals working in the fields of art, dance, drama, media and music. Since January 2000 more than 120 artists and organisations have worked with Gallions. The length of time an artist spends with us depends partly on the nature of the project and partly on the amount of money we have to fund them. Some artists work in school for a day but most come for several days, with some artists returning each year for substantial residencies. Paul Ayres, our composer, has been resident with us for several years!
Since September 2001, our work with Antidote, a charity promoting emotional literacy in the workplace, has enabled us to create an atmosphere where positive behaviour and consideration for others are consistent throughout the school.
All our children from Reception to Year 6 take part in weekly Philosophy for Children (P4C) sessions. P4C is an educational approach designed to help children to develop into effective, critical and creative thinkers and to take a great deal of responsibility for their own learning in a creative and collaborative environment. P4C is key to how our children learn to transfer knowledge from one area of the curriculum to another and to be able to sort out disputes without resorting to physical violence.
All Gallions teaching staff and the majority of the support staff are trained to level 1 in P4C, with many of the teachers also trained to level 2. We have established a reputation for high quality P4C training, run by our Advanced Skills Teacher in P4C. At present, we are running six level 1 training courses and six level 2 training courses a year. We have also produced a step-by-step training DVD Thinking Allowed, which is available from the school.
The Gallions Music Programme
Music at Gallions is for everyone. We use the Kodály approach for teaching music and the Colourstrings method, which is based on Kodály principles, for the string training programme. Colourstrings and Kodály build on each other as training programmes. Children develop an inherent musical sense and understanding through singing and this is further developed through instrumental learning.
All classes sing daily. Each class has Kodály Musicianship lessons every week and all children from Year 2 to Year 6 learn a string instrument in small groups supported by supervised practice sessions at school. Our full music programme includes music assemblies, concerts, music clubs, composition projects and performances.
Many of the class teachers and support staff also learn a string instrument at school, in groups, on the same basis as the children. This has provided an interesting opportunity for teachers to be challenged alongside the children and in some cases to discover that the children are making considerably faster progress than they are!
We employ a specialist Kodály musicianship teacher, our musician in residence who works with every class and their teachers on an integrated music programme. Our Colourstrings teachers visit the school as a team on Thursdays and Fridays. Colourstrings began at Gallions in spring 2002. The seven teachers involved have extensive experience of the Colourstrings method.
All children from Year 2 upwards (approx 300 children) learn to play string instruments through the Colourstrings programme. Pupils in Year 2 begin learning in pairs for at least two terms and then move into small groups at the beginning of Year 3. The groups are of either four children with one teacher, or eight children with two teachers.
Funding our Music Programme
The teaching of music requires so much funding that it is essential that we seek outside sponsorship. There is no charge to the children and their families for any part of the music programme at Gallions.
The total cost of the music programme increases every year (see our website for current costs).
It includes the costs of all children from Years 2 – 6 to access Colourstrings instrumental lessons and all children from Nursery to Year 6 to access the Kodály Musicianship programme.
We have received generous funding from a variety of sources that has enabled us to reach many more pupils than would have been otherwise possible. It has enabled us to purchase instruments and music for the children to use and to employ specialist staff we would otherwise not have been able to afford.
Our programme is supported by The Gallions Music Trust, which was established in April 2008 to support the Gallions Music Programme and actively seek funding and sponsorship.
For further information on Gallions Primary School and the courses and resources we offer, please contact:
Gallions Primary School, Warwall, Beckton, London E6 6WG
Tel: 0207 476 1252 Fax: 0207 476 9758