The Arts

In addition to our St James Academy of Performing Arts, the arts form an essential part of our curriculum and the pupils’ daily lives.


Art is an integral part of the timetable for every pupil from Years 7 – 9 and is an option at GCSE and A Level.

Pupils work from observation, imagination and memory, developing a visual vocabulary that enables them to express their ideas and creativity through drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture.

Textiles is also part of the curriculum in Year 7 and can be integrated into examination work in later years.

The basic elements of art are thoroughly covered over the first four years, allowing pupils to develop and widen their level of skill and creativity. This is supported by a broad study of the social context related to each topic. We encompass examples of art from pre-historic through to the 21st Century: this gives pupils an overview of the particular culture and is a good foundation for their GCSE studies. Lessons are based on a variety of topics related to the chronological development of art. We work on cross-curricular projects including school productions which provide an excellent opportunity for pupils to design and build sets, props and posters.

As a department, we aim to work to pupils’ strengths and encourage their particular interests in the subject. This allows them to make more specific choices at GCSE and A Level in line with their coursework.


The Drama department is a lively and vibrant part of school life at St James.

The curriculum aims to provide a strong foundation in voice, movement and performance skills. All pupils acquire essential life skills through the art of presentation and delivery. The ability to work with others in a spirit of enthusiasm is a key element to working at production level. Pupils are encouraged to work and aspire to the highest professional standards in every aspect of theatre-making and in timetabled lessons.

Drama is an important part of the curriculum for Years 7 – 9. There are also a variety of drama clubs, each of which will put on a school production, as well as opportunities to collaborate with St James Senior Boys’ School for combined performances. Drama and Theatre are offered at GCSE and A lLevel.


Music is central to life at St James and singing and instrument playing can be heard throughout the day.

Music lessons in Years 7 to 9 put an emphasis on musical skills (such as reading notation), and increasing awareness of the many different musical styles, historically and globally, and the cultural and social context of these. We try wherever possible to help students’ own musical interests to be developed, striving to develop a passion for and understanding of the finest music for pupils to take into the rest of their lives. All pupils are encouraged to take part in our concert programme and there are opportunities for beginners as well as the more advanced in our music ensembles and choirs.

We work as a Performing Arts Department with drama and often in close collaboration with the Senior Boys’ School. Recent productions have included ‘The Lion King’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz.’

Major musical events throughout the school year include the Carol Service, the prize winner’s concert and the St James Summer Concert.

Many pupils play an instrument and participate in the school orchestras and choirs, and all pupils regularly sing together.

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