Sir, you're not Johnny Rotten, you're just rotten

9th March 2012 at 00:00
Teachers may have to treat pupils to annual displays of their talents

Most Teachers have hidden talents, and often those gifts are in fields such as painting, singing, dancing or music. Now, however, there is a good chance that they will have an obligation to use these skills in a professional capacity and perform for their pupils.

The reason that teachers may be forced to dust down their tap shoes or rummage around in the attic for that tuba is buried in last week's government-commissioned report on cultural education. The document, produced by Classic FM boss Darren Henley, says that school staff should be encouraged to pursue their artistic interests and, at the end of every academic year, perform for their school.

This, the report argues, would be a fresh and more personal way of engaging children with the arts. And it goes further, calling for a new scheme to be launched that would help teachers to remain in touch with relevant professional developments in their artistic area of interest.

Teachers and heads have greeted the idea with a mixture of excitement and uncertainty, not unlike pre-show nerves. Nick Williams, head of the Brit School in Croydon - former pupils of which include Adele, Amy Winehouse and Rizzle Kicks - liked the idea of keeping teachers' skills up to date, but he added that performances would have to be handled with care.

"In some schools, the wish of the staff to play sometimes gets in the way of pupils. That doesn't happen here because we have a much more collaborative approach," he said. "But the general point is a good one. My experience, though, is that the best staff are purposefully engaged in the arts in their own time, through singing in a choir or playing in a band. That's in their blood, it's what they do."

This view was echoed by David Hilton, director of performing arts at Cottingham High School in Yorkshire. "When pupils get the opportunity to see teachers carrying out the skills that they are trying to develop in pupils, it can have value for them," he said.

"Twice a year, the music department puts on performances fully working with the pupils. The pupils perform and sometimes the staff will accompany them, so a violinist may be accompanied by a member of staff on the piano."

However, Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, sounded a note of caution. "I don't think it's a bad idea," he said. "A lot of art teachers sell their own paintings outside school, for example. But some teachers are shy and would tend to think that school should be about stimulating pupils' talents.

"I think you would also find teachers with skills that are not in the subjects they are teaching. There may be quite a few wannabe rock stars teaching history and that sort of thing."

From the forums

Is it a good idea for teachers to put on performances for pupils and parents?

We sing a staff carol at our carol service. We also do a staff pantomime for the children just before Christmas. We finish our summer concert with Thank You for the Music, with our orchestra playing and all of our staff members who play instruments playing with them. I can't really see how we could fit much more in.


I have, on a couple of occasions, organised soirees where the school's music staff, past pupils and parents have performed. We had the current children from the school play in the first half and then, after some wine and "eats", the adults took over. We were raising money for charity and the evenings were a great success. I couldn't do it every year though.


At the concert we put on this week, I accompanied pretty much everyone who couldn't do it themselves. While I didn't mind, the audience didn't really come along to see me and I would much prefer it if the pupils were doing it instead.


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