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‘Made in Dagenham’ is truly MADE by Crawley School

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There is a buzz in our office just before St Wilfrid’s announces their musical project for the year. A real sense of excitement and particularly this year following the incredible production of CATS they did last.

So when it was announced that ‘Made In Dagenham’ was to be the musical for 2020 I felt disappointed.

A musical that lasted just six months in the West End. A musical based on a film that had mixed reviews in 2010. What were they thinking?

Where was the flamboyant announcement of some huge Andrew Lloyd Webber production? How would they be able to give enough boys a part in a musical about women?

I will not lie, I have not seen the film and did not go see the musical. The thought of a musical production based on a historical event in 1968 really did not appeal. So when I arrived at the school it would be fair to say that I was wondering if they even had enough coffee on the premises to get me through it.

Well let me set the record straight now. This is one of those underated, under promoted, under EVERYTHING musicals, so thank the lord (St Wilfrid’s is a Catholic school so always good to big up the main man for them) that James Hadden the director decided to put it on.

Chances are you have heard of the musical but never seen it. So take my word and change that immediately.

It is a bright, fast-paced, musical feast with lots of humour for ALL ages. It has an almost panto feel with the way the adult humour is blended in such a way that younger people in the audience will miss the puns but without losing any enjoyment.

And any expectation that the musical would prevent enough boys from taking part is torn apart right from the start.

But what made this so special was that because I had not seen the musical then whatever happened on this run through would set the bar for how it would be perceived for me for ever more.

Well to say the bar was set well out of reach would not be giving it enough praise.

There are musicals that have a few great tunes mixed among others that you just hope will finish quickly. Not here. The score is modern and vibrant and the cast, as ever, throw their everything in to every scene, every dance routine and every dramatic moment.

As ever, the lead roles have been doubled up to give as many students the opportunity as possible, so I can’t really point out individuals BUT in the production I saw Elisha Oak as character Rita takes you hand in hand along every step of her struggle to right the wrongs of the time and do keep a look and ear out for the Prime Minister who on this occasion was played by Eoin Baldwin and whose character serves up an audio feast of witty prose whilst juggling visual clowning making the character a true delight to watch.

The female leads are truly believable and their anger and frustration is real, you feel it as you do the bigoted idealisms their employers throw at them.

There is also something really exciting about the supporting cast and chorus with their enthusiasm. You can see they are all giving their all and enjoying every moment and that is more infectious than any foreign virus we are all too concerned over and choreographed with panache by Mrs Jo Lintern Coodall and Ms Megan Kennedy.

The back stage crew with Miss Niamh Slatter and orchestra led by Miss Debbie Betts are as professional as they come marrying together the magic that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

The message is clear as well and certainly not dull or boring. It is a historical look back at something many can still vividly remember and which is still sadly not addressed fully today.

The audience of years 7’s who got the treat of being the first to watch the performance were, to be frank, transfixed with the production and why wouldn’t they be. This musical menagerie really made you feel for the characters whilst enjoying the well choreographed routines and cleverly orchestrated dialogue.

This is the third production I have reviewed for St Wilfrid’s and I don’t want to come across as though I will always praise them for praises sake. But how can you not when you experience such wonderful events such as this.

Whether it’s your school or not, whether your child attends here or not and whether you are a fan of going to musicals or not, take it from me that this is worth every penny.

This is the swan song for director James before he moves on to new pastures and I will not let his incredible legacy at St Wilfrid’s go un-noticed. James Hadden has brought true magic to the school, not just with productions but in the way he has empowered students to bring their full potential to audiences over the years and that is not something you can be taught to do, that is true talent. I have had the pleasure of experiencing this talent with his work over the last few years and know that the next chapter of his career will be a true asset to wherever he ends up.

So, another year, another superb production and another reason to avoid the professional productions and see something truly wonderful that the town has to offer.

Damn it, I didn’t even get to finish my first coffee!

Ticket prices are £8 per adult and £6 for concessions and the production runs from Wednesday 26 February 7pm until Saturday 29th February with a matinee at 2pm.

Education

Crawley students to be given option to sit exams in next academic year

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The Department for Education has released further information around exams and grades following the earlier one this week that exams were cancelled.

They have also announced that students who wish to take their exams will be able to do so in the next academic year.

The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer, following our actions to slow the spread of coronavirus.

This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.

To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly this will be provided to schools and colleges. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.

The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July. In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years. The DoE says they will also aim to ensure that the distribution of grades follows a similar pattern to that in other years, so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances.

The Department for Education said:

“We recognise that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they haven’t been able to sit their exams.

If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case they will be able to appeal on that basis.

In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again.

Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.”

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