Considerable success in art, drama and music reflects pupils’ interests, and those who work towards national speaking examinations achieve outstanding results.
ISI INSPECTION REPORT 2022
Performing Arts facilities
Summer Fields is well-equipped to deliver the performing arts. The Macmillan building houses 25 music practice rooms and a 300 seater theatre. There is also an outdoor theatre for productions in the summer term. Aspiring organists benefit from having the opportunity to play the organ in the Chapel.
Pupils of all ages and abilities participate in a wide variety of music groups, choirs, orchestras and several instrumental ensembles. This includes the chapel choir, which sings regularly at major venues such as Westminster Cathedral, St George’s Chapel, many Oxford Colleges and also tours abroad.
Approximately 80% of the boys learn an instrument at Summer Fields. With over 260 individual lessons taught every week, and with ensembles ranging from full orchestras to rock bands and string quartets, there is a huge amount of music-making to get involved in and enjoy.
Music is taught as a regular timetabled lesson, with focus on history, performance, musical appreciation and theoretical awareness. All boys gain experience on the violin, recorder, ukulele and keyboards, with senior year groups extending their studies into extended pieces of composition.
We encourage the boys to perform as much as possible. A beginner may start with a short piece in front of his peers in an assembly and be part of a larger group in our League music competition. Later on, they may take part in one of our many Coffee Concerts; or perform solo in the Summer Concert or in external music competitions.
Our two choirs are perhaps the pinnacle of our music making. They perform in chapel services, and in many other locations throughout the year. Their repertoire is ambitious and wide-ranging, and they enjoy a reputation approaching that of dedicated UK choir schools.
Many pupils have exceptional ability and are encouraged to enter for a Music Scholarship to their senior school. Summer Fields has an impressive track record here, gaining scholarships and exhibitions to many top schools.
Concerts and services are also broadcast live to parents unable to attend.
"Music certainly hits the high notes too, with more than 80 per cent of boys having individual lessons and a diverse array of ensembles and orchestras catering for every taste and ability."
TALK EDUCATION 2023
Drama is taught to boys in Years 4 and 5 as part of their timetable, with preparation for play performances within this programme of studies. Thereafter they have opportunities to audition for each term's major play, or to help out backstage or in the audio-visual box. Many of them surprise themselves -- and their teachers -- with hitherto undiscovered skills.
We are known for mounting ambitious and challenging productions, and many Old Summerfieldians go on to be the mainstays of Drama Departments elsewhere. Many boys receive individual LAMDA lessons which supports their performances within the dramatic arts. The standard is exceptionally high with over 90% gaining Distinctions.
Summer Fields boys like to perform, and almost all of them like to sing. Most performances will involve a song or a dance at some stage, and these roles are eagerly sought. And far from being taken solely by known singers and choristers, it is often the relative unknown who stands up to take on the big solo or duet. The have-a-go attitude is prevalent in all productions, and some of the quietest boys in the classroom turn out to be most forceful and memorable on the stage. Several plays take place by year group, while the Summer Musical is open to all.
There are many other opportunities for boys to get up on the stage. We have debates, poetry recitals and public speaking competitions, plus Creative Writing recitations in the outdoor amphitheatre - a highlight of the year. In all these instances, boys are encouraged to develop their presence on stage, and to move and speak with confidence. These are skills not just for Summer Fields, but for life itself, and we are very proud of the several performances we put on each year.
Our Video Production Unit (VPU) and boys assisting with sound and lighting, means that boys who want to explore the technical backstage aspect of drama and working in theatre are given many opportunities as well.