The Opening of Fulbridge Academy High – The Charles Swift Wing
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Principal’s Speech to Welcome the Guests
A very warm welcome to everyone; to the Rt Hon. the Lord Mawhinney, our special guests Sophie and Paul and distinguished guests, but I think you all fit into that category actually. Welcome to ‘Fulbridge Academy High, The Charles Swift Wing’. With those words it is therefore appropriate to start with a very warm welcome to Charles, who we have named this building after, over 60 years a councillor in this Ward and over 50 years a Governor at Fulbridge, he is Mr Fulbridge as well as Mr Peterborough.
What I would have done over the years without Charles’ support and the support and advice of Helen Bath, our Chair of Governors, is hard to imagine, two amazing people for whom myself, Fulbridge and our community owe so much!
So I will start now by saying a thank you to all of the wonderful children who have performed so magnificently for us this morning with songs, dance and drama, on a Shakespeare and Wicked theme and they have one more item for you at the end as you will see on your programme.
That word Wicked leads me seamlessly into saying a huge thank you to Sophie Linder-Lee, who is currently performing in the show Wicked in the West End (I have only seen the show about 6 times) for Opening this wonderful new part to our Academy and shortly to Paul Collings, a former West End actor, over 3,000 performances as Mickey in Blood Brothers (I have seen that about 6 times as well, they are genuinely my two favourite West End Shows), and later Paul will formally open this exciting dance studio that we are now in.
It is a pity that Jordi Guitart has not been able to make it as he had the opening of a West End show last night that he had choreographed and is rehearsing today. Jordi spotted our dancers at the Cresset and due to his belief in what they could do, their ability and what we were aspiring to do has given Fulbridge children the opportunity to perform on the stage at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Sadlers Wells and later this year at the O2.
Helen Bath, our Chair of Governors, will formally thank people a little later, but on a professional but personal note I would like to say a thank you to five people in particular for coming today, firstly Charlotte, Caroline and Jill, two former Deputy Heads and an Office Manager who had a significant impact on the journey that has led to the success we have enjoyed at Fulbridge, to Keith Warren who was Head at Welbourne and appointed me to my first Peterborough teaching post and who was such an outstanding role model and influence in terms of the style of leadership that I have adopted myself and finally to my great life-long friend Colin, professional artist extraordinaire currently working on the murals in the corridor here and responsible for some outstanding art work in our main building including the amazing mural above our main entrance on Keeton Road.
Formal occasions like this are few and far between in a school and it is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the success the Fulbridge Academy has had now for a number of years. There are many people that I could mention and wish I had time to mention as the success of Fulbridge has truly been a team effort.
We have always prioritised the children, it is their school in their community and we have created a bespoke creative approach that puts a broad and balanced curriculum with the performing arts and sport as a central prerequisite of a successful education. But most of all we are here to educate children, not to deliver a commercial or even a national curriculum and we do this in an environment that makes you long for childhood as beautiful environments make beautiful people and at Fulbridge we believe that children deserve sunshine and flowers in their lives.
As you will have realised this building has a very strong Performing Arts theme. The classrooms, or studios, as we call them, are all associated with well known places that are famous for the performing arts. The other rooms in this building are named after pop songs, Rehab for First Aid, Dangerous for the Site Managers store room and Imagine for the staff room are just three examples.
In Education we can, if we are not careful, allow the performing arts to become second class citizens or subjects and see children as only really being successful if they are good at reading, writing or maths, from this morning’s performance you can see that is simply not true or right.
Forgive me a very brief history lesson: Between 1450 and 1600 Europe passed through what became known as the Renaissance. We saw the birth of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Galileo, Copernicus, Shakespeare and Isaac Newton. They produced works in art and literature of unsurpassed beauty and depth and created the foundations of modern science, technology and philosophy. Leonardo, the quintessential renaissance man was gifted in painting, sculpture, mathematics and Science. Fast forward to the 1650’s until towards the end of the 1700’s and we see what we call the age of enlightenment.
Far be it from me to question it’s name but this period in history saw the great divide begin between two ways of thinking: the arts and the sciences. The union of the arts and sciences gradually dissolved during the period of Enlightenment. The ensuing age of romanticism saw amazing advances in the arts and the sciences, however I think sadly that science and technology seem to have assumed the intellectual high ground and the Arts are not given, by some, the intellectual recognition they deserve.
Some of the guilt for this happening, especially in more recent times must be laid at the door of the education system. The only subjects that now seem to really matter often exclude the performing arts.
At the Fulbridge Academy we want to reverse this trend and the theme that runs through this building is our start, from little acorns …….. we could start an age of enlightenment in education and return to an educational renaissance where the arts and the sciences are seen as equals, you never know. At Fulbridge we already have a PE team covering PPA time and delivering high quality PE from our own specialists, we have a music specialist doing the same role and we are now planning to increase our expressive arts provision and have the music provision in an Arts and Creativity Team with other specialists delivering high quality Art, drama and dance for all children on a more regular basis.
It is very unusual for me to be overly serious but at a time when the educational world is changing so much I believe it is time for a paradigm shift in education, a true enlightened renaissance where teachers, the professionals, grasp this opportunity to take the lead. Enough of my ramblings, I did have my 60th birthday last year, which may explain it, may I now hand over to one of our special guests just to say a few words: Sophie Linder-Lee who has officially opened this magnificent building.
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Here are the details of the Opening Ceremony that took place on Friday 30th January at 10.30am.
We have had a 240 place building built for our Year 5 & 6 children to enable us to expand from three to four form entry. As Cllr Charles Swift has been a councillor for our catchment area for over 60 years and a Governor of Fulbridge for over 50 years, we are naming the new building after him: ‘Fulbridge Academy High: The Charles Swift Wing.’ I would guess that over 50 years as a Governor is unprecedented.
We had a West End Actress called Sophie Linder-Lee who is currently in Wicked to open the building and a former West End actor, Paul Collings who was Mickey in Blood Brothers from 1993 – 2006 and is now Artistic Director at Kindred Drama Consultancy to open our new hall which is a dance studio.
We have given the whole building a performing arts theme to emphasise the importance of the Arts in education. There are eight class rooms (studios), a dance hall, a staff room and office etc and it is on a separate site 2 minutes walk from the main building.
We decided to give the new building a performing arts theme so the classrooms are called studios and all the rooms have been named after song titles that reflect the use of the room. For example the site manager’s storage area and boiler house are named “Dangerous’ (Michael Jackson), the store cupboard “Something’ (The Beatles) and the staff room “Imagine’ (John Lennon).
The hall (Wonderwall) has a dance floor surface and dance mirrors as well as a stage and control room for the sound and lighting. There is also a wooden outdoor stage with seating.
The classrooms are called studios and named after famous places associated with the arts: Bollywood, Abbey Road, Universal, Pixar, West End, Broadway, Disney and Hollywood.
The main corridor, or break out area, has large expansive walls that are having murals painted on them that reflect the names of the Studios.
Here is the programme for the morning:
Look around the school and Official Opening: the plaque
Choir : Medley from Wicked
Drama: Shakespeare the cauldron scene from Macbeth
Dance Club: “Defying Gravity’
Drama: Tahir: ‘Now is the Winter of our Discontent’
Principal’s Welcome (Iain M Erskine)
Helen Bath (Chair of Governors) – thank you to Carillion and PCC
and our guests – momentos given to guests and Charles
Paul Collings – Open Wonderwall Dance Studio
7. Wonderwall song: choir and dance/gym
The children’s performances have a Shakespearian and Wicked (WEST End Show) theme. Our dance club have performed at Drury Lane and Sadlers Wells and are performing in the O2 in the summer.