While most schools are cutting back on funding available for arts subjects, particularly music, there is one school in south London that is not only resisting the trend but positively leading the march against it.
At St Saviour’s and St Olave’s Church of England School for girls, located where the Old Kent Road and Tower Bridge Road meet, the school’s distinctive Christian ethos embraces a broad range of music programmes from Choir, Gospel Choir to Orchestra, Strings, Percussion as a valuable expression of student ability and character.
The aim is to encourage access to music education for all students with weekly music lessons throughout Key Stage Three, as well as courses at GCSE and A Level. All students have the opportunity to receive free instrumental tuition in singing, piano, violin, viola, ‘cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, percussion, brass, guitar, theory and steel pans. This amount of musical education is only made possible by the generosity of the school’s governing body and foundation. Additionally, any student learning an instrument is loaned an instrument free of charge. All of which demonstrates the level and long term nature of the school’s commitment to music.
St Saviour’s and St Olave’s have established a reputation from this approach. In recent years students have had the privilege of performing to international Heads of State, key members of Parliament and peers, Queen Elizabeth II, former Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rev Dr Rowan Williams, President Nelson Mandela… and the list goes on.
“it was a privilege for our school to contribute
to the life of the local community in such a way
It’s no wonder then, that the school is frequently invited to perform at a high level across the country. Choirs from St Saviour’s and St Olave’s regularly perform at Southwark Cathedral including at December’s ‘service of light’ marking six months since the London Bridge attacks, attended by their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Joseph Gilder, Director of Music at the school described the event as “a special occasion and it was a privilege for our school to contribute to the life of the local community in such a way.”
St Saviour’s and St Olave’s have also been invited to perform Mozart’s Requiem in the Birmingham Symphony Hall this coming November to mark 100 years since the end of World War I.
A recent new purchase, with help of the Worshipful Company of Dyers, a 6’3″ Yamaha C3 Grand piano is very much the icing on the cake for the Music department at the school. The pedigree of the Dyers Company dates back almost as far as the school’s own long history.
St Saviour’s Grammar School was first established after being granted a Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1562, while St Olave’s Grammar School was granted its Charter in 1571. Both of these institutions amalgamated in 1899 to form the present Foundation. The Dyers Company were well established by 1666 but in the Great Fire of London that year much of their historic records were lost, so it is uncertain if they were formed as early as the school they now so generously support with the purchase of the Grand piano and awarding a number of bursaries to students in the Sixth Form and a University Scholarship.
Education trends may come and go but this is a school with a sense of time like few others, remaining constant in its appreciation and dedication to learning through music and its harmonious effects on young minds.