A new look for Lorna Whiston School at United Square
Paula Rawlins, the head teacher of Speech and Drama at Lorna Whiston, speaks to us about their amazing Trinity College results and the new and improved United Square branch.
In order to succeed in our competitive and fast-paced society, kids need to possess several important life skills.
No longer is it enough to be excellent academically and just be book-smart. Nowadays, it is essential that kids have the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, and present themselves in a confident manner.
For years, Lorna Whiston Schools have been helping their students do just this.
A leader in providing high quality English language and speech and drama classes, Lorna Whiston Schools serves a wide spectrum of students, ranging from young kids to adults.
We caught up with Paula Rawlins, Lorna Whiston’s Head Teacher of Speech and Drama, to talk about their amazing Trinity College results and their new and improved school at United Square.
Q: Congratulations on the wonderful Trinity College results! Can you tell me more about this?
A: In 2014, we entered over 600 candidates, mostly from primary one right up to primary six, and some secondary one students as well. We even had a few adults.
So, the results are in and we had an amazing 98% distinction rate with the remaining 2% achieving merits.
Q: What is your secret to achieving such great results?
A: The biggest reason behind this success is that I have an amazing and dedicated team of teachers on board who fully understands our vision. This is essential to bringing communication skills, through the art of drama, into the classroom.
Although we respect the fact that there are places where rote learning (learning through memorisation and repetition) has to be applied, I feel the reason we succeed is because we don’t believe in rote learning alone.
Instead, we use the “Real Learning Curriculum”, which is devised in-house. It is updated regularly and complements the Ministry of Education (MOE) syllabus. Listening to the children is also very important.
Our team of teachers develops their own set of lesson plans and continuously updates and revises them.
For example, if there’s something happening out there or something that the children are talking about, we somehow try and incorporate that into our lessons, making our programmes more relevant to kids.
More of this interview on the next page…
Q: How do you motivate kids to perform so well?
A: We mix the imaginary with the real-life through the process of drama and focus on building their confidence.
The children get inspired by the exciting range of topics we cover, and our teachers are very skilled at bringing out the best in each child and building a strong rapport with the students.
Drama classrooms are not conventional classrooms! Because we don’t have desks and chairs, it’s very “free”.
We also encourage our students to share their thoughts openly in class. So kids feel that everybody’s opinion is valid, especially because it’s a non-judgmental space.
We strongly believe that no idea is wrong. Sometimes, kids can be a little bit frightened to speak up, so we let them know that it is okay to speak up, in the right place and at the right time, of course.
As kids grow older, we also guide them towards more logical and critical thinking. This process is nurtured with the greatest of care, while praising and encouraging the kids along the way.
Q: What happens when kids don’t get the best results?
A: If kids fall down, which is real life and they have to know that this will happen, we show them how to handle the situation.
I personally encourage our kids to go for open auditions, mostly because I want them to be exposed to new people, make mistakes in front of a camera, and also feel rejection.
Some kids can’t take failure only because they have never been exposed to it. It is important that they know that things may not always turn out as they wish, but that they have the stamina and the confidence to bounce back from any set-backs.
We also give our students the opportunity to work in groups. We have smaller classes, which allow kids to interact more freely and with more confidence.
Keep reading on the next page…
Q: What do parents think about their children’s progress?
A: Parents quickly recognise that their children’s communication skills are improving tremendously.
However, sometimes we have to set realistic goals for both parents and students. They need to know that it can take some time for kids to progress from being shy, to communicating with confidence.
We believe that each child is unique. So we try and bring out their hidden characteristics when they are in class. We certainly do not put pressure on the child and we also encourage parents not to pressure their kids.
Parents can always talk to us personally, on the phone or through email, and be confident that their children are in safe and competent hands.
Q: What are the new programmes you offer?
A: We have started a new course called “Devised Drama” in which kids will study in a group. They will have to devise a plot between them and present it, maybe with a live audience that will most certainly add to the dynamics of it all.
Another new programme is the “Solo Communication Skills”, which is one of our public speaking programmes.
There is also a Musical theater Programme called “Show Kids” which has been specially designed for children aged 8 to 12.
“Show Kids” differs from the rest of the programmes as it appeals to children who may not fit into a drama class. Here, we introduce different genres of music like theatre, pop and rap and the children get to express themselves through music, movement and song.
Read about Lorna Whiston’s new and improved centre as well as a parent’s perspective…
Q: Tell us a little about your new and improved centre.
A: The brand new look is vibrant and a lot fresher, and is the result of many months spent going through a complete rebranding process! We also have a new logo, strong new corporate colours and a very focused message.
Furthermore, we are now using technology to enhance students’ learning experience with the use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms.
A parent’s perspective
Danniel Lee’s three boys aged 12, 10 and 9 have been attending English Enrichment and Speech and Drama classes at Lorna Whiston Schools for the last four years.
Danniel says, “I feel all three of them are now confident in expressing themselves. They’re not shy when it comes to voicing out their opinions, and they’ve been very creative in their expressions. The role plays in Speech and Drama, have brought out their different characters, that we would otherwise not see in their daily lives.”
His boys actually look forward to going to classes and the teachers at Lorna Whiston are dedicated, professional and encouraging.
If you want to find out more about the Lorna Whiston Schools and the programmes they offer, check out their website here. You can also visit the Lorna Whiston Facebook page for updates and regular video messages from Paula herself.
Do your kids attend any of the Lorna Whiston Schools? Let us know what you, as a parent, think about their programmes by leaving a comment below.