Performing arts

Ark Helenswood Academy is recognised nationally as a school that is at the forefront of arts education. We believe the performing arts subjects provide an essential and intrinsic part of our students’ learning and development, and support their future careers whatever direction they choose to take.

We are secure in our belief that Performing Arts at Helenswood, enables every student to succeed beyond their expectations.

The Curriculum

Students at Ark Helenswood are offered a rich performing arts programme. They have the opportunity to study Music, Dance and Drama as part of their Key Stage 3 studies. In Year 9 students choose options alongside the core subjects and they can continue with Music, Dance and Drama to GCSE level.

Students have the choice to continue to study at Ark 6th Form East Sussex where they can study Music, Dance and Drama to A level standard.

All performing arts subjects are taught by highly skilled teachers with outstanding subject knowledge and professional experience, ensuring students are exposed to the best teaching and learning available.

Our results at KS4 and 5 are excellent. The courses we offer are vibrant, challenging, and planned to ensure that our students are fully prepared for the next learning stage in their lives.

Across the Curriculum

Ark Helenswood Academy is recognised as a specialist school in performing arts and our aim is to use our specialism to raise attainment, ambition and achievement across the whole school and our community.

The Drama department has committed to creating a curriculum which supports the development of literacy skills which will support students in their studies across all subjects.

Stand and Deliver is an innovative learning programme designed to support the development of literacy skills for our students. We work with all subjects to enable our students to develop practical skills which will support their learning, presentations and assessments in other subjects.

National Connections

Unique to Ark Helenswood Academy is our extensive partnership with national arts organisations.

We have a long standing partnership with Hofesh  Shechter Company – one of the most influential dance companies in the UK with an international reputation and touring schedule. This international company have delivered annual workshop programmes with us and have identified the partnership with Helenswood as the hub of their educational outreach work in the country.

For eight years we have been a link school for the Royal Shakespeare Company and we supported the development of the RSC’s educational programme. We have performed in festivals at Stratford-Upon-Avon and have toured Shakespeare productions. We have now been invited to become a Lead Associate School with the RSC which will offer opportunities for local primary schools to become associate schools in a partnership programme.

In addition to these partnerships we continue to work closely with Glyndebourne, English National Opera, and the National Theatre through the Connections programme which has led to major performances, workshops and training for our students. We have participated in the Shakespeare Schools Festival and regularly organise professional workshops for our students run by national companies.

We are currently working with the Tate Gallery, RSC and Nottingham University on a collaborative research project TALE – Tracking Arts learning and Engagement which is exploring the long term impact of the arts and cultural experience for students in secondary schools.

Regional Connections

Helenswood is committed to developing arts learning and experience in the community.

We continue to provide an extensive outreach programme which offers exceptional opportunities for young people in Hastings and Rother.

  • Workshops in Primary schools developing  Dance, Drama and Music
  • Leading the 1066 Youth Theatre Company for students across the region
  • Training teachers from local primary and secondary schools in the teaching of Shakespeare at Key Stage 2, 3 and 4
  • Leading the Hastings and Rother Arts and Education Network (HRAEN)
  • Annual dance performance at the Holocaust Memorial Service
  • Founding the Swan Neck Dance Company for community performances


We have an outstanding extra-curricular performing arts programme. Students at Helenswood have unique opportunities to build life skills through extensive participation in performing arts activities. Many of these activities lead to performances both within school, regionally and nationally.

  • Annual Dance Show
  • Annual whole school Musical
  • Gecko Dance Club
  • School Choir
  • Orchestra
  • Djembe Drum Club
  • Summer and Winter Concerts
  • Lower School Drama Club
  • Lower School Dance Club
  • Upper School Drama Club
  • Live Theatre Streaming
  • Dance / Gym Club
  • SEA Change – Building Life Skills

Performing Arts at Helenswood is outstanding. We provide a rich foundation for learning throughout our students’ school career, building creativity, collaboration and confidence, and ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed.