Chichester performing arts school helping children learn new skills
Vicky meets... Katy Eyre, Principal, Pauline Quirke Academy, Chichester
When did you start teaching?
After school I worked in a high school as an assistant. I loved it and decided to train as a teacher. I wanted to do my degree in something I loved and do a PGCG [Post Graduate Certificate in Education] afterwards, so I trained in musical theatre at Chichester University. After I finished, I got a job with the university producing a musical. Then I started teaching drama. It was a lightbulb moment.
How did you come to run your own school?
I had been teaching at the Brighton PQA for a while when I was invited to apply to start a PQA school in Chichester. It is an amazing opportunity. It’s a model of working that has been hugely successful and head office takes care of a lot of the admin. PQA was set up 12 years ago by the actress Pauline Quirke [famous as Sharon from TV’s Birds of a Feather] and she and her husband Steve are still really hands on and very much at the centre of things. It’s going so well that I have just opened a second Chichester Academy!
Why are the arts important to children?
We’re not training children to become West End stars. We are a supportive community that will give you a chance to explore different things, learn new skills and build your confidence. When I was around my friends doing youth theatre I felt comfortable, and that really helped my confidence. Learning that you have a skill or talent is empowering and even if you never perform professionally, the discipline that goes with performing is so useful. You’re going to be told what to do all the way through life, so if you can learn to take direction then that is useful. Working with different people, having the confidence to stand up and speak in public, working as part of a team – there are so many benefits to being involved in performing arts.
Your classes include Comedy & Drama and Musical Theatre, but there is also a Film and Television module. Tell me more.
We are currently working on a project that began with just a few photos as a stimulus. The children have now storyboarded ideas, written a script and are directing and filming it! They take on different roles, including all the technical aspects, and when it’s done we’ll screen it. Film work really helps children develop critical thinking.
What inspires you in your work?
I was inspired by some of my teachers; people that never gave up on me. Having someone that believes in you is so powerful and spending time with all my students is really important to me. My PQA teachers are brilliant, but they are also really great at interacting with the kids. Friendship runs right through the academy. I am really proud of that.
PQA Chichester takes children from 4 – 18 and runs on Saturdays. Currently PQA is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. More information: www.pqacademy.com/academies/chichester/
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