The Music department is vibrant, welcoming place with plenty of opportunities to perform and several new facilities for pupils to use.
All pupils at Clifton High School study Music through to Year 9, at which point they can continue on to GCSE level if they wish. In the Sixth Form, we offer Music at A Level and Music Technology at AS level.
Pupils study a wide variety of music, from Samba, Jazz, and Classical through to musicals, popular music, and music technology. Composition work is done using our suite of Macs, all of which run Logic Pro, as well as our new music studio, which is made particular use of by those studying Music Technology at AS Level.
There are numerous ensembles in which pupils take part, including a variety of choirs, a string orchestra, a pit orchestra to accompany the yearly show, and several bands. There are also weekly clubs, such as the Music Technology Club, and we also offer instrumental lessons to pupils who wish to study an instrument privately. We have three large-scale performance opportunities each year: the Carol Service at the end of the Autumn Term (held at Clifton Cathedral), the Spring Concert at the end of the Spring Term (held at St George's Bristol), and a Rose Day celebration at the end of the Summer Term (held at Bristol Cathedral).
New pupils with a strong background in music can apply for a Music Scholarship upon joining the school.
Individual lessons with peripatetic teachers in a variety of instruments are available at additional cost to School Fees.
Drama at Clifton High
Clifton High has a thriving Drama and Performing Arts scene. Every year the department stages a large-scale blockbuster performance of a Musical, at the Redgrave Theatre in Clifton. Pupils of all ages can get involved, from acting, dancing, singing and playing in the band, to back stage costume and make-up artist work, and set building and lighting. Recent spectacles include Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables, The Addams Family and West Side Story. Performing to hundreds of audience members each night, these productions strive for professionalism in every department.
All pupils study Drama through to Year 9, at which point they can continue on to GCSE level if they wish. In the Sixth Form, we offer A Level Drama, currently on the AQA curriculum.
Pupils experience different genres of Theatre, including Musicals, Physical Theatre, Contemporary and Epic Theatre, as well as gaining experience of Theatre from both onstage and backstage.
Pupils have many opportunities throughout the academic year, to experience the wonder of the theatre.
Speech and Drama
Speech and drama is an empowering way for young people to learn effective, clear communication that will serve them throughout their life. Through an exploration of poetry, reading aloud, drama games, performance and improvisation, children spark their imagination, think creatively and learn to perform with charisma. Classes involve a range of speaking and performing exercises that focus on developing clear speech and confident communication.
As well as being great fun, these sessions provide a framework of skills accredited by Trinity College London that will assist with performances and help pupils prepare for interviews and meetings, as well as social and professional occasions throughout their lives.
The school is fortunate in having a dedicated studio theatre space, equipped with computer lighting desk, an inventory of lanterns, sound systems and flexible staging. In addition, it has a dedicated teaching space and extensive costume and prop stores, which enable pupils to access equipment easily in daily drama classes and this is encouraged.
- Pupil’s reflections of being involved in school productions
- Parents and Audience members responses to the school productions
‘I have always found the school productions at Clifton High School to be an invaluable experience. It was an absolute delight working with the cast and orchestra to get through the challenging orchestration, and what we created was truly brilliant. I don’t think I have ever worked with a more talented and modest cast, everybody was so supportive and kind to each other throughout the whole process- we were a team! I am truly going to miss the experience of creating such excellent theatre with such lovely people, thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone involved in the production process- this year, and the other six- and I wish you all the best of luck for the next one, you can count on me being there. (Sixth Form student)
‘Having participated in a multitude of different school productions at Clifton, 'Sweeney Todd' was to be the most inquisitive and challenging show the school was to ever perform. That being said, I had no doubts in regards to the effort and support the staff of the production offered. The auditions took place around early May time, rehearsals started almost immediately with such strive and determination. From the word go, there was a distinctly positive atmosphere. This force gradually became more intense as the weeks drew on. By the 'three week call', until opening night, there was in fact a sudden realization that we had a show to perform! As a team, we were going to work together and showcase the best Musical the four walls of the main hall had ever seen. We worked seven hours on a weekend, running through the entire show several times, critiquing and perfecting our performances as well as working out the best lighting and sounds for each scene. The time and effort put in by every single person was incredible, and to the best of their ability; and once more, it all paid off for the long term. I have made life-long friends, from all year groups from Year 7 upwards. In addition, I have been able to have a chance to improve my theatrical abilities as well as become more confident in performing. Looking forward into the future, when I am a parent, I would 100% encourage my children to audition and participate in a production, as I know that I had the best time of my life during those months.’ (Year 11 pupil)
‘When I started the production two months late I was struggling badly but Mr Pullen and some others (e.g. Tom and Charlie) helped me out. I started to gain confidence as well as improving with the words. Over time I was happy to have been given roles. I feel very happy/ honoured that I was picked for the larger scenes. Mr favourite part was operating the different staging and even if I did it once during the play I am glad to do it in total. I have learnt and earnt from this production. I have learnt more in Drama and how to catch up. I have earnt friends and pride in this production as well (and sleep deprivation).’ (Year 8 pupil)
I just wanted to say a very, very big thank you and congratulations for an amazing show. It really was a spectacular feat to showcase some very talented students. I and others wanted to jump to our feet to give the standing ovation they truly deserved along with that amazing orchestra! We as parents do know there is a lot of hard work that goes into getting a production performance ready, I am sure we truly do not comprehend how much but it is truly appreciated. It is very telling when four 12 year old boys turn up at your house after a Sunday of rehearsals and on the fourteenth consecutive day of being at school yet beaming from ear to ear and full of spirit ....(Clifton High School parent)
We wanted to express our delight at the success of the school’s wonderful week of music and performing arts. It was absolutely brilliant! The children were both bubbling with excitement after the workshops and events this week. Both were especially keen on the song writing workshop and they loved working with the Docklands Sinfonia. That was an experience that will stay with them for a long time to come. West Side Story was so impressive and a real pleasure to watch. The final concert on Friday evening was just fantastic. Ms Pieters, Mr Cleaver and Mr Pullen and all the staff who helped pull this off have done an incredible job. This is exactly the kind of thing that Clifton High does so well. It makes us proud to be a part of the Clifton High community. (Clifton High School parent)
I just wanted to say a big thank you for putting on such an outstanding production with West Side story. We went last night and thought the whole show was absolutely brilliant. The singing and acting were so professional and the music from the orchestra was really moving.You and all the cast should be very proud of what you have achieved. (Clifton High School parent)
‘I am so pleased I was able to see this truly unforgettable performance. It brought back many happy memories of my own time at Clifton High School and I am glad to see that the drama department is thriving and not afraid to take on a challenge. I was incredibly impressed with the talent and confidence of the actors and touched by their sensitive interpretations of these complex characters….what moved me the most about this production was that the cast pulled together beautifully as an ensemble and the chorus numbers were rousing and full of emotion. You must be very proud of them all’ (Clifton High School Alumni)
Our beautiful, light and airy art studios are home to our Art and Design Department. A lively, creative hub, pupils have the opportunity to develop their skills, express their creative ideas and explore a wide range of materials and techniques.
At Clifton High we cover the formal elements of art and design which include drawing, painting, mixed media, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, IT and photography. The study of art history and art appreciation are also important elements of our curriculum.
Boys and girls in Years 7 to 9 receive one fifty minute Art lesson per week and we encourage all our pupils to become successful confident young artists whatever their age or ability.
GCSE, A level and beyond
We offer Fine Art GCSE and A level Art and Design courses and a new A level Photography course is starting in September 2021. The department has excellent links with Bristol School of Art (part of SGS college) and Weston College. GCSE and A level students perform consistently well in Art and Design with the vast majority achieving A* to B grades. Students have gone on to study Fine Art, Architecture, Graphic Design, Illustration, Film Making, and Photography courses at university. We also have a number of professional artists among our former students, including Illustrator Katie Tomlinson, who has designed for Doctor Martens and Radley, London.
Our Head of Art and Design is an accomplished painter and printmaker who has exhibited regularly at the Royal West of England Academy of Art. Our additional Teacher of Art is a specialist in textile and printmaking techniques and exhibits her prints regularly. The teaching staff are also supported by a specialist Art Technician.
· Two beautifully lit art studios incorporating our display gallery
· Junior art room incorporating our ceramics studio and kiln room
· Digital photography studio with digital SLR cameras and studio lighting
· Photography dark room with cyanotype, photography and screen-printing exposure unit
· Specialist print making equipment for drypoint, collagraphy, linocut and screenprinting and digital textiles
· IT facilities with full Adobe CC software and A1 inkjet printers
· iPads with Apple Pencils and Procreate app
· A comprehensive art history library
· Procreate iPad drawing club
· Trips and visits to art galleries in the UK and abroad
· Visiting artist workshops for A level students
· Participation in the Annual Bristol Senior Schools Art Exhibition (overall student prize won by a Clifton High School student in 2020)