Friday, November 2, 2007
The London Oratory School is a Catholic voluntary aided comprehensive secondary school in Fulham, London educating boys in the age range of 7-16 and boys and girls in the age range 16-18 (the sixth form). There are 1338 pupils including 354 in the sixth form. The Headmaster is David McFadden BSc MA.
The school's most recent Ofsted report classed it as outstanding, the highest possible grade. The school offers an unrivalled range of extra-curricular activities. On any single day there may be more than 20 activities on offer, before and after school and during lunch time. Many of these activities are musical where the school has a real strength. Other activities include the Combined Cadet Force, societies and modern languages enrichment. Such activities allow pupils to experience challenge and to work productively together. In addition there is a wide range of sports fixtures, school journeys, visits and cultural activities. Many sporting activities take place at the Barn Elms sport centre in South West London, however extra facilities have been recently added to the school site, including cricket nets and tennis facilities. The Arts Centre provides a venue for exhibitions and performances of a high quality. In the sixth form there is a popular debating society and there is good provision for girls to take part in activities including a successful girls' rugby team. Participation rates in extra-curricular activities are high. In keeping with the ethos of a Catholic school opportunities are provided for pupils to take part in retreats such as those to Aylesford Priory, Fawley Court and Lourdes.
The school uniform is a black blazer with an embroidered orange and red shield; sixth form boys wear a black jacket with the complete coat of arms while girls wear a striped blazer. The school admits pupils from a wide range of backgrounds and has an extensive catchment area, with pupils travelling from as far away as Uxbridge in the west, Tower Hamlets in the east, Muswell Hill in the north and Kingston upon Thames in the south.
A very high proportion of pupils go on to higher education, with many gaining places at the country's most prestigious universities. Recent years have seen impressive Oxbridge success. In keeping with the school's policy of catering for a broad range of academic ability, assistance is given in applications to all institutions of higher education. The objective throughout the school is to aim to fulfill each pupil's potential, which of course is different for every individual. The school makes strenuous efforts to ensure students with special educational needs have proper care and support, a fact recognised in the most recent Ofsted Inspection Report.
The senior school is divided into six houses, Campion, Fisher, Howard, More, Owen and Southwell, each with a housemaster, who, together with the form tutors, are responsible for the academic and social well-being of those in the house. Pupils in each house have lunch together in the Houseroom every day and all houses compete in the various sports challenges, such as the House Rugby Competition. Houses are thought to promote unity and friendly competition in the school, across all years.
The Modern Languages department at the London Oratory School is considered to be particularly strong. In 2005, the Department were given the award for best A-Level results in Modern Languages of all state schools in England. Advanced Extension Awards are offered to those pupils with a particular gift in their subject.
Since 11th November 2006, on Saturdays, Polish students attend the Henryk Sienkiewicz Polish School that takes place in the London Oratory School. Students of the school range from the age of 5 to 17, where students also study to take GCSE and A-Level examinations, usually a year earlier than students do for other subjects. The Headmaster of the Henryk Sienkiewicz Polish School is Wojciech Poza, a chemistry teacher at the school.
The Music Department is highly renowned, and the Junior House, formed in 1996, gives a rigorous education to boys from the age of seven to eleven in all subjects in the context of a thorough musical education. The department has five full time music teachers, and a large number of visiting instrumental and singing teachers who give singing and instrumental lessons throughout the week. For pupils with an aptitude for music and a desire to study seriously, the school affords extensive opportunities for tuition, study and performing in public. There are five choirs: The Schola, the Junior House Choir, the School Choir, the Chamber Choir and the Girls' Choir. The director of music is Lee Ward, who is also director of music at Hampstead Parish Church. Ward is Director of The Schola, Chamber Choir and School Choir but as of September 18, 2007 he has stepped down and made his fellow colleagues David Terry and Clare Dawson in charge of the Chamber and School Choir. The School Choir and the Chamber Choir are open to all pupils with choral ability, the Chamber Choir specialising in the more demanding music, particularly the traditional liturgical music of the Catholic Church. The Girls' Choir is drawn from the girls in the sixth form. The Choral Society is open to parents, staff and friends and performs a concert each term in venues in London. Recently performed works include; Verdi's Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, Mozart's Mass in C minor, Bach's Magnificat, Duke Ellington's Sacred Concert, Bach's Mass in B Minor, Pärt's Miserere, Monteverdi's 'Vespers' Allegri's Miserere and Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna.
In recent years pupils have taken part in the school's productions of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and King Arthur, Britten's Golden Vanity, Noye's Fludde and The Children's Crusade, Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, Richard Rodney Bennett's opera All the King's Men, The Ballad of Solomon Pavey, an Elizabethan ballad opera about the children of the Chapel Royal, Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, The Mikado, Patience, Trial by Jury and The Pirates of Penzance, The Beggars Opera by John Gay, Mozart's The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro and Cosi Fan Tutte, Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Bizet's Carmen and Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music.
The choirs regularly give concerts of sacred and secular music at the school and also out of school and have performed at Oxford and Cambridge colleges, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal National Theatre and the Purcell Room on the South Bank and in addition, some pupils sing at the English National Opera and the Royal Opera House. The choirs have also toured extensively abroad and many pupils have in the past visited; Paris, Germany, America, Rome, Krakov, Berlin, Bareclona, New York and Lisbon. The school has provided choirs for film scores such as The Lord of the Rings. The chamber choir, schola and girls' choir from the school sang with professional soloists and the Colla Voce singers (an ensemble largely composed of former pupils who have gone on to music scholarships) at a concert in the London Oratory Church, for the retirement as headmaster of John McIntosh OBE, on Saturday 9th December 2006. This was attended by HRH The Princess Michael of Kent and the Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Tony Blair MP.
Over 500 pupils attend more than 700 weekly individual music lessons given by some of London's leading professional musicians in a wide variety of instruments. Where possible instruments are loaned to pupils in the initial stages. Pupils are entered for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music examinations. The school's Symphony Orchestra and various ensembles provide pupils with an excellent introduction to group music making. All orchestral instrumentalists are encouraged to join one or more of the groups such as the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Junior Strings, Concert Band and several chamber groups and a jazz group: The Seagrave Stompers. Choral and orchestral concerts are held each term in the theatre and pupils and teachers give lunch time recitals in the foyer of The John McIntosh Arts Centre and Junior House choir room. The school possesses two types of electronic organ: a three manual Allen organ in the Chapel and a two manual organ in The John McIntosh Arts Centre. There is also a fine two manual Goble harpsichord for pupils learning keyboard instruments and for use in school concerts. The school has recently acquired a concert harp and now has eight pupils learning this instrument.
Music at the School
The London Oratory School Schola was established in 1996 as a means of providing Catholic boys from the age of seven with a rigorous choral education within the maintained system, something hitherto only available in the independent system. The school's close association with the London Oratory places it in a strong, if not unique, position to provide this form of specialist education and to contribute to the development of traditional liturgical music.
The partnership between the London Oratory and the school provides ideal opportunities for the school to train boys within the context of a living tradition of catholic liturgy.
The Oratory is part of a dynamic liturgical and musical tradition which goes back to the sixteenth century when the first Oratory was established in Rome at the time of the Counter-Reformation. Both Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Tomás Luis de Victoria were closely associated with the Oratory and Philip Neri, its founder, and Victoria became an Oratorian.
In particular, the houses of the Oratory in Europe have been closely associated with the development of sacred polyphony and Gregorian Chant. The Oratory in London has a reputation for maintaining this tradition and for providing some of the finest liturgy and liturgical music in Europe today. The school has a strong musical tradition and for many years has been closely associated with liturgy and music of the Oratory.
The Schola sings at the Saturday evening Mass at the Oratory every week in term time and at other Masses and services during and outside term, and in the School Chapel during the week. In addition to the liturgical commitment, concert work and touring are a regular feature of the choristers' lives. The choir also features on film soundtracks, including the whole of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film).
Choristers normally join the school at the age of seven and are selected by audition, examination and an exhaustive interview, although places may sometimes be available to boys who join the school later, including during the sixth form. Choristers rehearse at 8 o'clock every morning, for an hour immediately before services, and frequently during the lunch break and after school. Boys are given individual voice training. When their voices change, and the time comes for choristers to step down as trebles and altos, they devote more time to their instrumental music; their interest in singing is kept alive until their voices have developed sufficiently to enable them, where appropriate, to return to The Schola. The Schola is supported by lay clerks, some of whom are members of the Oratory Choir. Choristers are fully involved in other aspects of the musical life of the school.
The Oratory School Schola Foundation has been set up to raise funds to supprt the development of the Schola and its overseas tours, as unlike Cathedral choirs it has no endowments or external source of income.
Drama plays an important part in the life of the school. There are several productions each year: a major drama and opera production in conjunction with the Music Department, smaller scale productions by the Drama Club and other groups of pupils and periodic performances by visiting companies. In recent years the school has presented Macbeth, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors and Much Ado about Nothing (all by Shakespeare). Other productions have been Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and The Hypochondriac, Gogol's The Government Inspector, Shaw's The Devil's Disciple and Pygmalion, Beckett's Endgame, Edward Bond's The Sea and Stone as well as Toad of Toad Hall, The Elephant Man, numerous one-act plays including four by Chekhov, Arthur Miller's The Crucible and A View from the Bridge, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Peter Shaffer's Black Comedy, Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus, Keith Dewhurst's Don Quixote and Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, Sheridan's School for Scandal, Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, Brian Friel's Translations, Ben Jonson's Volpone, Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good, Alice in Wonderland, Shakespeare's The Tempest, South Pacific and most recently Gargling with Jelly"
Great importance is attached to all theatrical skills so that pupils become closely involved in the design and construction of scenery, the making of costumes, the use of the school's extensive and up-to-date lighting system, in stage management and the techniques of make-up. Several members of staff direct, often assisted by pupils from the sixth form.
The School's CCF is sponsored by The Rifles and The Royal Air Force. Membership is voluntary and open to pupils aged thirteen and over. Meetings are held every week on a Friday after school, this includes a parade, lessons and a final parade. Activities normally held on weekend camps include abseiling, canoing, shooting, climbing, lightweight camping, flying, gliding, swimming and sport, in addition to subjects taught in the Combined Cadet Force training syllabus. Royal Air Force cadets attend voluntary flying lessons at least twice a month. The two sections of the school's CCF regularly achieve great success in the national competitions, and in 2007 the RAF section achieved 5th place in the national finals of the Ground Training Competition held at RAF Uxbridge, while the Rifles section finished 4th in the Swift and Bold competition at Stowe School. The Rifles section have won that competition in the two previous years (2006 and 2005) while the RAF section collected 2nd place in the Ground Training Competition in 2005 and 3rd in 2004.
School Environment Committee
Bridget Prentice MP (Teacher) Headmasters
Catholic Church in England and Wales
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