During my time in schools around the country I have met some amazing students. When I talk about the project informally, I constantly refer to the astute, confident, organised and focused young people I have met. I feel reassured about the future from meeting them.
During my time at King Ethelberts School near Margate in Kent, I spoke to a number of Performing Arts and Drama students. All the students were confident and forthcoming, not shy of talking to me, and were full of ideas. They explained to me that Drama and Performing Arts had taught them the confidence I witnessed:
In school I definitely learn the confidence and Mr Wall and Mr Morris want you to be able to build that confidence, be able to act in front of a big audience. You take back everything you learn at school I think.
Confidence is probably my main one. I used to do musical theatre outside of school and then I came to secondary school and stopped because I was like right, now it is time to focus on school work but then I got back into it in Year 10 and I am more confident now than I was when I was doing it outside of school and I’ve only been doing it for not even a year.
But, as the students explained, the performing arts subjects did more than simply build their confidence:
It definitely helps as well. It helps you to be able to accept that sometimes things go wrong and that is okay. Like with every yes, there is like 10 nos. That is what it has taught me, to not beat myself up about something if I get it wrong because there is stuff I’ve done in performing arts that I never thought I would do and I used to always be like no I can’t do that. It has taught me that if I work on it, I will get there eventually. It is determination and commitment. It has definitely helped.
I used to go to drama club in Year 7, 8 and 9 and I have got involved in presentation afternoon, some showcases. But I think they have been nice to help me build up to being able to be confident in performing arts lessons and not just sit there quietly because it helped me make a lot of friends. I am friends with everyone in there but I didn’t speak to half of the girls in there last year and I just think it brings everyone together and it is quite nice.
This self-awareness, and resilience to the potential harshness of the world was surprising to find in such young people.
I think it is important that people are able to accept that not being the best at everything is okay. And there are some things that you’re not going to be good at but there are also things that you will be better than anyone else at which I think is important to know that everybody has a thing and a pathway set for them and people might not just have found it yet.
I think just be confident in yourself. That is all you can really do.
Finally, one student explained how her experience of performing arts subjects had influenced what she potentially wanted to do with her life.
I would like to teach some sort of performing arts or drama because I like being able to share what I know with other people because when I was younger I would constantly doubt myself so it would be nice to teach kids what I’ve been through. It is okay, you are good. You are amazing.