August 22, 2021
Due to COVID- restrictions, our Year 6 leavers had missed out on so many ‘rights of passage’ including a traditional Speech Day and the end of year musical theatre production, for which our year 6 pupils would audition for the major roles. Our pupils feed 16 secondary schools and the end of Summer production is an emotionally charged performance and greatly anticipated event before they all leave us and each other.
Given the constraints of bubbles, social distancing and limited visitors onsite, we planned for this year’s production to be made as a film. As we are also celebrating our 75th anniversary this year, the film was to follow the story of St. Margaret’s, from being established in 1946 by Commander & Mrs Lowe in the stable block and coach house of Gosfield Hall, for their daughters, to the present day as Headteacher Mrs Moss leads the ‘St. Margaret’s Family’ through the challenges of COVID.
As a family-based school who values the whole St. Margaret’s community, and with almost no information on the history of our school, we reached out to past pupils and staff. We recorded many wonderful anecdotes from their school days and our Director of Productions, Mrs Gray, used the notes to sketch out some of the key milestones.
Following auditions and consultations with the children, the Year 6 pupils were cast into their roles, including seven Headteachers & their spouses, a caretaker, dinner ladies, Saint Margaret, pupils and teachers from across the ears and of course, competitive Sports Day dads! Whilst there was an overall sense of timeline and purpose based on the history of the school, the children worked with Mrs Gray to develop the script during actual filming. A style of story-telling also naturally developed – based on the the popular children’s TV series Horrible Histories, which the children love – with lots of entertaining facts about schooling during the different eras interwoven with comedic acting and jokes.
The historical aspects of the film tied in with the Year 6’s History curriculum, including learning about WW2 and understanding how schooling (and health & safety) changed through the years – such as evacuee children, school dinners made from rations, clothing & petrol coupons to buy uniforms and transport to & from school, how they started real fires to practise the fire drills, learning by rote, lining up at Speech Day according to results in exams, being driven by a teacher to France in the school bus with a broken door and how the headteachers and their families lived onsite with their pets, including donkeys.
The costumes and props were elaborate and included lots of stick-on moustaches, two real donkeys, a WW2 jeep and the French trips scenes were filmed at Frinton beach.
The other Year Groups, from Nursery to Year 5, had outfits and choregraphed dance routines to music from across the eras that they chose, which was filmed and features throughout the film.
The script was written in such a way that it integrated the five main values of a St. Margaret’s pupil, which is instilled in the ethos of our school: Proud of our Learning Journeys; Joyful, Creative & Determined; Respectful Global Citizens; Confident Communicators; and Kind, Caring Friends.
The 35-minute film, is narrated by the Year 6 pupils and was filmed and edited by media students Ben Moss (a former pupil himself) and Connor Crowley, making it a professional and genuinely entertaining film.
Watch the film here