Caldicott represented at the National Independent Schools' Drama Association

06 June 2018


Every year that I attend NISDA (this is my 5th) I come back to school having grown in confidence from learning new skills that enhance my practice and make lifelong friends who share the same passion for the arts as I do.

Being voted onto the committee last year was an honour and a position that has allowed me to not only use my expertise to benefit others but also promote the work that we do here at Caldicott to a wider audience. I feel strongly that prep schools need to have a voice and Caldicott can benefit greatly from being at the forefront of drama education in the independent sector.

NISDA provides a weekend of workshops, performances, discussions and networking opportunities for drama teachers from all parts of UK, and beyond. I knew heading into this year's conference that delegates would be in for some excellent CPD, but I was blown away by just how inspirational and empowering this was and with how much I gained personally from it as a theatre professional.

Ed Elliot, Headmaster of The Perse School, opened the conference with a passionate keynote speech in which he made his views on the arts very clear: "I believe the future of the economy (of the UK) lies in the creative arts". This was followed by an insightful discussion about why he believes this to be the case and how he ensures that The Perse embraces this in their arts provision.

On the final day, our closing keynote speakers all spoke so passionately about their experiences at school and the teachers who believed and supported them to pursue the careers that they now have. Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, Director of The Africa Centre and former Chief Executive of The Place (a contemporary dance venue where Caldicott presented their performance "Muster" in 2016), expressed his view on the importance of the creative arts in schools. He said, "If we only view pupils through one prism (academics) we won't see the whole person". This is very true, particularity when studies show that 82% of people feel a better sense of well-being after participating in arts activity.

Participatory arts activities help to alleviate anxiety, depression and stress and so we are not just teaching children to act, but we are promoting positive mental wellbeing and the development of numerous transferable skills, which will aid them at their senior schools and beyond. I look forward to sharing my learning in the drama classroom at Caldicott and hope that in some way I too can make a difference.

Jo Duncan


NISDA Conference

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