‘’Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything’’ (Plato)
We learn how music works through studying a wide variety of musical styles, genres and traditions. By putting sound before symbol we perform works by artists as diverse as Bob Marley to Bernstein, from Stravinsky to Anoushka Shankar, from Bach to the Beatles. All these styles can then be mixed together to compose in our own unique voice. Here at Alsager we encourage everyone to sing and play an instrument, join an extra-curricular club or activity, be creative and come up with fresh new sounds and beats.
I love teaching Music at Alsager School. There is no better feeling than seeing our students develop as musicians building on their knowledge and skills year on year. Whether performing a blues improvisation on the keyboard, singing in our award winning vocal group or writing a rock song for their GCSE coursework we know it is the quality of the musical outcome that counts, and we know you don’t get there without playing a few wrong notes. For this reason, we make sure that everyone is friendly and supportive of each other. Participation in any musical activity, be it playing sax in jazz band, creating piece on the Taiko Drums in year 8 or composing a club dance remix for your A level coursework, gives you a real sense of joy and achievement. Music enriches the school life here at Alsager, as well as the wider community through the many concerts, workshops as well as our annual school musical which involves all our local primary schools. We see music as a partnership between students, staff, our fantastic instrumental tutors, our local music hub, the Love Music Trust and of course the parents and carers who support us on a daily basis.
What does it mean to be a musician at Alsager School?
Every lesson is a practical one. I am only in year 7 and I have already played the cornet, keyboards, djembe drums and ukulele. Getting involved in extracurricular is also really good fun. I recently took part in Annie. It was great to be part of such a big whole school production. I made loads of new friends. I was a bit nervous when it came to the big night, but I am so glad I did it. My Mum said it was better than anything you would see on Broadway! (Year 7 student)
What skills have you gained/developed in music?
I have learnt that working together as a team is important. We were playing in a band but couldn’t decide who should play what. Eventually, by allocating roles, letting everyone have a go at each part and not giving up we came to a decision as to what worked the best. Our performance of Price Tag was great! (Year 7 student)
I have learnt to be resilient if I find something difficult. We were recently learning to play reggae music and I couldn’t play the bass guitar part. Instead of giving up I kept practising until I smashed it. (Year 8 student)
I decided to join the choir in the first few weeks and it was great. It has improved my confidence and now I am not afraid to try something new. Not only did we learn some great tunes, but I made some great friends, and then we performed at the MEN at the Young Voices concert with Tony Hadley! (Year 7 student)
How do we challenge you in Music?
There is always another level to strive for in music. Last term we started playing brass instruments. I found it difficult at first but eventually I started to really enjoy it. Miss Waterhouse said I should join the starter brass group which I did. I now hire my own instrument from the Love Music Trust, have joined the school orchestra and joined Lions Brass Band. (Year 7 student)
How do we make you enthusiastic about Music at Alsager School?
Music lessons are always fun and exciting. We are always learning something new. We also have brilliant resources in school. Guitars, drum kits, loads of instruments. (Year 10 student)
Over the last three weeks I have created a club dance remix as part of my composition coursework. Sampling, creating beats, composing harmonies. I can’t believe I have done it so fast but when you have such great facilities it’s like writing music in a professional recording studio. (Year 13 student)
What knowledge do you learn in Music and how does it help you?
Every time we study a piece of new piece of music we learn about the compositional techniques involved. I can then use these techniques to create my own piece. I am currently writing a piece for a jazz band based on the music of Esperanza Spalding. If you didn’t know she is a brilliant vocalist/bassist. Check her out!(Year 11 student)
What is your favourite thing about Music at Alsager school?
When you go down to the music department you can hear jazz, rock, classical, choirs and orchestras. There is something for everyone. (Year 10 student)
Everyone is always so friendly. Students from year 7 through to year 13 are involved in loads of different clubs and activities. If ever I get stuck with a chord or rhythm someone will always help me. (Year 7 student)
We have just started creating dance tracks using music technology which is great. What is really good is that we can go and use the facilities anytime, at dinner time, break time or after school and practise. It is always open. (Year 8 student)
The Art department aims to provide an inspiring environment where students can express themselves and develop their creative skills. We offer A-levels in both Fine Art and Photography. In order to give you an insight into what you can expect to study on these 2 courses, we have included a short summary highlighting key features as well as the views of some of our current A-level students discussing their experiences.
Fine Art A-Level
The Fine Art course is a two year A-Level subject where you will develop and learn how to make informed decisions about your own creative artwork and the world around you in a culture of experimentation, exploration and critical reflection. We will support you to become skilled in your ability to use a broad range of art materials and techniques influenced and inspired by the work of contemporary and traditional artists, designers and photographers. You will be challenged to investigate and reflect upon your own practice to take imaginative and creative risks in the artwork you produce.
Building upon the techniques you will learn, you can explore any combination of painting and drawing, mixed media, intaglio printing, photography and digital manipulation using Adobe Photoshop.
Each individual student will develop their own visual style influenced by the workshops we will deliver. The skills you will develop will be wide and varied with a particular focus on personal expression and developing your own unique style and approach. Fine Art is about looking, learning, thinking and communicating about the styles and work of your chosen artists.
At A-level for component 1 you will develop work for a personal investigation into an idea, issue, concept or theme supported by written material. This will count for 60% of your total A-level marks. In component 2 you will produce personal work in response to one of eight exciting starting points which will count for 40% of your total A-level marks.
The Photography course is a two year A-Level subject where you will learn how to use a broad range of photographic techniques influenced and inspired by the work of contemporary and traditional photographers, designers and artists. You will be challenged to investigate and reflect upon your own practice and to take imaginative and creative risks in the images you produce. You will be taught the Techniques of Production of photography including Adobe Photoshop and explore Documentary, Still Life and Abstract photography before developing a personal project. We provide you with your own Sixth Form Studio in D10 with access to computers in which you can develop your portfolio outside of lessons. The course is designed using Microsoft OneNote and your final portfolio will be a digital Flip eBook that can be accessed online.
Each individual student will develop their own visual style influenced by the taught photographic workshops. The skills you will develop will be wide and varied with a particular focus on personal expression and developing your own style and approach. The most exciting aspect of photography is that you are capturing the world as you see it through your own eyes.
Here in the Art Department we help students to learn in a supportive environment. I love teaching both Fine Art and Photography because it is truly inspiring to see how students embrace the skills they learn and then apply these in their work. The subjects we teach give students a platform where they can show-case their creative flair and express themselves in a way that is unique to Fine Art and Photography.
Assistant Curriculum Leader for ADT
How is the A level different to GCSE Art?
“A-level art is an opportunity to develop the artistic skills you developed at GCSE but in a much more expressive and personal way. Each student has the opportunity to establish a personal style which was introduced towards the end of year 11” (Fine Art student)
“A level Art is relatively similar to GCSE, in the sense of the format of the coursework and the exam structure, meaning that the transition between year 11 and year 12 feels less of an overwhelming jump. Nevertheless, at A Level, students are given a lot more freedom as to what they want to do with their coursework. The Art Department at A Level provides a relaxed environment in which we can quietly get on with our work- I am always in there when i have non-contacts!” (Fine Art student)
What advice would you give to a GCSE student who is considering taking it at A Level?
“Ensure that you have a real passion for the subject as it requires dedication, effort, and a creative flare. Coming up with new ideas and concepts for your art can be tricky when its expected of you regularly, but a true artist flourishes under these conditions and utilizes the creative push, using this as an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and enjoy the creative process” (Fine Art student)
“My advice for going into A level Art is don’t expect to create a masterpiece straight away. It takes time, dedication, hard work and resilience” (Fine Art student)
“I highly recommend that you take it as it is a very friendly environment to work in. For me it truly brought out the artist in me and I am sure it will bring out the artist in you. I am still amazed that the teachers are equally as enthusiastic as the student to your work and are always ready to lend a hand and guide you forward. Since joining sixth form the department became my second home and I never complain about always being here as it’s so calm and friendly” (Photography student)
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of the course for you?
“I have really enjoyed being able to use different materials and media in my art as I find it therapeutic” (Fine Art student)
“Personal projects are definitely my most enjoyable aspect as you get to work with what you love and present a portfolio you are happy and confident with” (Fine Art student)
“The most enjoyable part of the course for me is when I’m setting up the shoot that I want and then looking at the photos that it produced. This is because it helps me to identify what I need to do to make my shoots better. We have explored how to change the exposure, aperture and shutter speed and this was useful in the way that I can change them to suit the different shoots that I’m doing” (Photography student)
What techniques and approaches have you explored?
“Since starting A Level Art, my ability to experiment, and be expressive has definitely developed. We’re constantly encouraged to push ourselves and try out new techniques, which really pays off later on in the course. When studying Clare Woods, we delved into abstract painting, and emotive colour use. Prior to that project, we explored a multitude of drawing techniques and illustrated natural forms. For me, Art is a development process and I’m constantly learning from my successes and failures” (Fine Art student)
“Within the course I have learnt how to use a camera manually and explored different camera techniques and tricks to make my images look better. For example, I have learnt how to paint with light. Painting with light is where you lengthen the shutter speed of your camera so that it takes the picture slower” (Photography student)
“I experiment with colour, different types of media and materials to create my pieces. I really enjoy creating art from natural forms and landscapes” (Fine Art student)
“In the beginning of the course we focused on natural forms and how photography can be used to alter how vibrant an image looks. Taking inspiration form Clare Woods, we produced concertinas, photography sheets and our own studies” (Fine Art student)
How have you been challenged?
“It can be challenging to generate new ideas and creative thoughts on a regular basis, but for anyone brimming with new ideas and inspiration, this should come easily. In fact, this provides an outlet for your creativity to flow” (Fine Art student)
“From the beginning of year 12 the pieces you create begin to build your portfolio therefore it is important to manage your time wisely. I have found that utilising my non-contacts to come to the art department is highly beneficial” (Fine Art student)
“I have been challenged to the task of learning how to use Photoshop and what you can do on it, also I have been challenged on how to use the camera manually rather than automatic meaning you control every aspect of the lens” (Photography student)
“Making sure the camera settings are right. Sometimes, it’s difficult to get the exposure correct or the focus correct because they aren’t on the right settings and this makes the photo’s come out wrong, either too dark or light or not being able to tell what the photos are” (Photography student)
The English department offer A levels in both English Language and English Literature. We have included a short summary of what you can expect to find on these 2 courses and also the views of some of our current A level students.
English Language A level
A Level English Language will enable you to study a wide range of texts from a range of time periods. It allows you consider different approaches of analysis and you will be able to apply the views of a range of theorists as well as contributing your own ideas and beliefs on the English language to analytical essays. Furthermore, there are various elements of creativity included within the course which are tested both in the exam and in the coursework components. You will be able to study the language in real world contexts for example, what impact has technology had on the way we speak? How do children learn to acquire language? Is our language gendered at all? This A level offers you fresh perspective on the English language.
English Literature A level
Do you love that feeling of getting lost in a great book or the feeling you get when that analytical point just clicks? A Level English Literature involves the study of a wide range of texts, including prose, poetry and plays, so a love of reading is a must. Students will study Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ and a selection of John Keats’ poetry through the lens of Tragedy (Paper 1). Students will also study a range Crime Writing (Paper 2) such as Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement’ and Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Students are expected to read widely outside of class. This course will allow you to explore, discuss and analyse a wealth of writers and engage with their views as well as offering your own interpretations on key moral matters.
Mrs Martin (Curriculum Leader for English)
How is the A level different to GCSE English?
“The main difference is that we get to delve into the underlying philosophy of how the language works, what it’s about and how it got to this point.” (English Language student)
“It’s so different from the GCSE. We look at the language itself, how the language has formed, why it has formed and even how children acquire it.” (English Language student)
“While GCSE explored certain genres at a specific point in time, A level allows you to explore the changes of crime and tragedy texts as the era of the text’s publishing is essential to shaping meaning.” (English Literature student)
How do the skills developed across your A level literature and language course help support other subjects you do?
“English language requires patience to learn a range of terms and theory, but It has taught me to see things from a different perspective.” (English Language student)
“By taking both Englishes at A level, the language skills I have developed in English language have helped me to create a much more focused, in depth analysis for literature. Alongside this, the context I have studied in literature can give you a greater understanding of history and a much clearer base for analysis in a variety of other subjects. (English Language & Literature student)
“Both language and literature have given me the ability to understand language within different contexts and I feel this will really help me in later life eg: in the workplace.” (English Language & Literature student)
What makes English such an interesting A level?
“Through the wider reading we do, I’ve learnt a range of research skills that I can apply to my other A level subjects. English language does not just endorse learning in the classroom but also gives you the skills you need for independent study at university and beyond.” (English Language student)
“The uniqueness of our language interests me. How language can differ from one person to the next through accent or gender or even just their physical context.” (English Language student)
“The fascination with English literature come from the opportunity to explore the expertise of some of the world’s most talented writers. Especially within plays like Othello and Death of a Salesman, the hidden meanings behind some of the writer’s most subtle decisions make English literature such an interesting A level.” (English Literature student)
What made you choose English A level?
“Universities seem to like the fact that I study literature as the depth of analysis required helps prepare students for subjects such as law.” (English Literature student)
“I run my own blog so the opportunity to learn how to shape meanings through language made this course an easy choice for me. I wanted to learn how to use language to best express my opinions.” (English Language student)
From their arrival at Alsager School, all students will study at least one language in Year 7, either German, Spanish, or French. We give students opportunities to develop their language with a focus on the four main skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Students will develop the ability to form language correctly, by learning about grammar formation and phonemes. Students will be able to produce language in past, present, and future tenses.
Students learn a wide range of vocabulary in the target language, with topics often chosen based on what is relevant for young people in society. Students learn about sports activities, school life, technology, environmental issues, and career plans, to name just a few. We also give students language they can use in the real world. How can you explain a medical problem to a doctor? How can you order food and drink in a restaurant? How can you ask for directions to a place in town?
There is also a big focus on understanding the culture and the people behind the language. In KS3 we have a variety of cultural projects, for example learning about the artwork of Salvador Dalí in Spanish, or the history of the city of Paris in French. We also learn about traditions in different countries, like the fascinating festivals that happen in Germany, or the bizarre edible delicacies of Latin America. (guinea pig!) Students who progress further in languages may delve even deeper and get to grips with authentic resources. This could be a German novel, a famous flick from French Cinema, or the vivid world of Spanish music and dance.
I love teaching languages because it gives students access to other cultures. It allows them to consider their identity on a global scale, and how to interact with people from around the world. In an increasingly diverse and developing society, it is more essential than ever that young people understand the importance of global citizenship. It allows students to express themselves creatively by speaking and writing in other languages. Learning languages gives students transferable social and communication skills, as well as a space to develop their confidence with expressing themselves. It can open the door to new career paths and make you an attractive candidate to future employers. I champion learning languages because there is something special and powerful about being able to speak to people from around the world in their own language.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela
Mr Perry (Teacher of Languages)
What does it mean to be a languages student at Alsager school?
“It means to want to learn and respect other cultures. To be a language student shows resilience, bravery, and respect towards what is new and different.” (Year 10 student)
“It means to study hard and try and learn about different people and their language. It means to be challenged but have fun as well.” (Year 7 student)
“To be a language student is an enriching experience that is unique and totally different from all other subjects.” (Year 7 student)
What key skills do you gain/develop from learning languages?
“You become more perceptive and learn to explore questions in depth.” (Year 10 student)
“You learn how to be independent and responsible for your own learning.” (Year 10 student)
“In languages you develop confidence and perseverance to try to get it right.” (Year 7 student)
“You can learn to be sociable and you can get to know people even if they don’t speak English.” (Year 7 student)
Do you think it is important to learn languages?
“Learning languages is vital to make you stand out from the crowd. It gives employers a reason to hire you and not someone else. It breaks down barriers, and the skills you develop learning a language help with everything.” (Year 10 student)
“I think it is important as it helps you learn how other people speak and live and if you go on holiday, you know how to speak part of their language.” (Year 7 student)
What is your favourite thing about learning languages at Alsager school?
“My favourite thing about learning languages is the dynamic atmosphere in the classroom. Teachers make the lessons fun and friendly, but still get across the information we need.” (Year 7 student)
“My favourite thing about learning languages is when you leave you have learned something you didn’t know before.” (Year 7 student)
“My favourite part of learning languages is the teachers, if I am stuck they will help me and support me to be the best I can be.” (Year 7 student)
“My favourite thing about learning languages is when you leave you have learned something you didn’t know before. Each lesson has its own challenge to tackle, and then it’s a great sense of achievement when you work it out yourself.” (Year 10 student)
Fashion: Students learn about the ‘design and make’ process using an iterative design approach and they are encouraged to consider the work of past and present designers in order to inspire their project work. Fashion at Alsager is about being creative, unique and coming up with fresh, new and innovative ideas.
Studying Fashion at Alsager School gives the students a chance to access information about all Design and Technology subjects; students are exposed to a breadth of knowledge including new and emerging technologies, design strategies and material areas such as woods, plastics and metals. Students also learn information linked directly to fashion and textiles including construction, manufacturing processes, and fibres, yarns and fabrics.
We ask students to question existing fashion products and designs, considering how they can be developed and improved. Students know the importance of seeking other people’s opinions and feedback in relation to design and practical work and they are taught how to use this information to make improvements to their own work. We also challenge students to learn a range of complex practical skills such as applique, patchwork, heat transfer printing and give them opportunities to embed this into their own projects.
I love teaching Fashion at Alsager School, I get to see the students being independent, creative and challenged in so many ways. It’s great to see how students develop their knowledge and skills and how proud they are when they produce great quality work. I love showing the students that making mistakes is all part of the learning process.
Mrs Howard (Textiles teacher)
What does it mean to be a Fashion designer at Alsager School?
“It means stepping outside my comfort zone and using different techniques that I wouldn’t use outside this subject”.
“To be a fashion designer at Alsager School means to respect other student’s ideas and feedback given. Also, to be creative and unique and not to worry if you make a mistake”.
“To be a creative individual who respects, and is resilient towards, other people’s opinions. To learn about new and emerging technologies and the sustainability of fashion”.
(Year 10 students)
What skills have you learned in Fashion?
“To create different types of research and market research to develop ideas”.
“Different sewing techniques, how to set up a sewing machine and how to experiment with the machine”.
“To help others if they need it”.
(Year 10 student)
How do we challenge you in Fashion?
“Teachers encourage us to take the harder pathway but without making us feel uncomfortable”.
“We are challenged by making us question our designs, ‘why are you doing that?’ and ‘how will this develop in the future?’”.
(Year 10 students)
How do we make you enthusiastic about Fashion at Alsager School?
“Teachers help us with our decisions and support us”.
“The teachers make us enthusiastic and the lessons are fun. We can use our own imagination to influence our designs. All lessons are different, not everyone is the same”.
(Year 10 students)
How do you get to use the practical skills taught to you in Fashion, and how do they help you?
“They can help us outside school if we want to create things by ourselves at home”.
(Year 10 student)
What knowledge do you learn in fashion and how does it help you?
“You learn about different companies which helps you understand their thinking and how they have developed their product. This helps us to do the same with our products as we go through the same process of developing it and using market research to influence our decisions”.
“You learn about the sustainability of fabric and the effect on the environment, making you more environmentally aware and friendly”.
(Year 10 students)
In year 8, students are exposed to American History, looking at emotive topics such as slavery, the Civil Rights Movement and the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. Students also learn about the journey for women’s suffrage in Britain, considering the importance of the Suffragists and the Suffragettes. Finally, our students examine WW1, by creating their own museum project.
Being an historian at Alsager School is about exploring exciting and diverse topics. In year 7, students learn about the Romans, the Medieval period, the Tudors and the Industrial Revolution. Our new introductory unit for year 7, ‘How the Humanities have changed the world?’, considers the significance of inventions and human discoveries and how they have transformed the world e.g. the development of vaccinations and planes.
Studying History is vital in terms of providing our students with impressive and transferable skills, such as the ability to select and analyse evidence, to consider significance of historical events and to identify trends over time. One of my favourite parts of teaching History at Alsager School is the invaluable discussion and class debates that take place in lessons. Our students are excellent at articulating their view and considering different historical perspectives.
Miss Baskerville (History teacher)
What does it mean to be an historian at Alsager School?
“To be a historian at Alsager School means that I know that no answer is a wrong answer as long as you back it with evidence. It also means that it is an opportunity to learn a lot about the past”.
“It means we understand about our past and how our ancestors shaped our future, and how we have the things we do today”.
(Year 7 students)
What skills have you learned in History?
“In History I have learnt how to analyse text, make better arguments when putting forward my opinion, what a source is, and which is best”.
(Year 7 student)
Why do you learn these skills?
“These skills will not just help us be better historians, they also help us in other subjects, like how to analyse a text will help in science”.
(Year 7 student)
How do we challenge you in History?
“Our teachers challenge us by not giving us the information directly, but they make us find out information from text and videos. This makes us work harder and we remember it better as we have found the information by ourselves”.
“Our teachers always ask us ‘why’ or make us second guess our opinion therefore extending our answers”.
(Year 7 students)
How do we make you enthusiastic about the past?
“They make us enthusiastic about the past by letting us interact and find our information in new and creative ways”.
“The teachers find ways to incorporate the things we like in to our History lessons”.
(Year 7 students)