Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

Performing Arts

Borlase has a reputation for excellence in the Peforming Arts: Music, Drama and Dance are a very important part of the school’s ethos. We value all the creative arts and believe strongly in the entitlement of all young people to experience specialist teaching of these subjects, giving them the opportunity to develop their confidence, creativity and skills.


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The school’s culture is one where pupils share and appreciate one another’s work through regular performance opportunities in assemblies; we recognise the positive impact this has on their confidence when giving presentations in all academic and discussion forums. We also feel strongly that the Performing Arts facilitate students to engage and become immersed in a variety of traditions, cultures and experiences. Music, Drama and Dance are studied by all Key Stage 3 pupils for one hour a week and the subjects are popular at GCSE and A Level with boys and girls.

almost 60% of our current Y11 cohort undertake at least one Performing Arts subject as part of their GCSE options.

Technical Theatre is also taught in the Sixth Form which complements the learning of our Arts students and our Engineers interested in acoustic and lighting design.

The Arts are not only taught as subjects in their own right, they are also used in other subject areas as part of their creative approaches to teaching and learning. Dance has been used to explore topics across academic disciplines including Electricity in Physics, Elements in Chemistry and, most recently, Poetry based around different cultures in English. The Drama department has collaborated with Modern Foreign Languages and History, and students within the Music Department have undertaken projects combining Music and Maths, Physics, French and History. All Performing Arts work closely with MFL in their annual Languages Extravaganza evening.

For further information about the Performing Arts' academic or extracurricular programmes please see the specific Academic Department pages.

Extra Curricular

The extra-curricular provision in the Performing Arts at Borlase has been described in The Tatler Magazine's Good Schools Guide as "superlative" and continues to expand. Several Performing Arts clubs take place every day and every year sees dozens of events which showcase the hard work of our students and staff. The Music Department offers over twenty clubs a week including eight school choirs, four orchestras, two jazz bands, a concert band, rock bands and other smaller chamber ensembles. We have several major annual Dance events including the Year 7 Cross Curricular Dance Project, Year 8’s Strictly Come Dancing Final and the Annual Dance Show. The Drama Department runs clubs for all year groups as well as organising workshops with professional practitioners and theatre companies. There is a Senior Musical or Play every year and a Junior Musical every other year which regularly feature in excess of one hundred students. We believe the Performing Arts are for everybody and this is particularly evident in our triennial Drama, Music and Dance House competitions, in which every member of the school competes.

"Our son has been inspired by all of you and had opportunities afforded to him that have exceeded all of our expectations!"

We believe in setting very high expectations for performance and our production values are always impressive. We perform with original sets, live student and professional orchestras and innovative lighting in our school theatre.  Our student theatre technical teams also work behind the scenes for productions and concerts. 

We are very proud of the achievements of our students. We have pupils who have been members of the National Youth Orchestra and Choir and the National Youth Theatre, as well as many who perform at county level. We have several students each year who perform in the West End, most recently in Matilda and Billy Elliot. Old Borlasians have progressed to some of the most prestigious institutions in this country and beyond; we have many former students who have successful careers in the arts and many, many more who simply continue to enjoy the arts as an essential escape from their busy professional lives. For further information about careers and destinations in these subjects, please see our specific Academic Department pages

Recent Productions

There is something being performed at Borlase almost every week. From A-Level and GCSE devised drama, to 'Rocktober' and Chamber Concerts, to Dance Shows and Senior Productions, the Performing Arts calendar is vibrant, exciting and non-stop! Recent productions include Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Loesser's Guys and Dolls and Bartlett's King Charles III. Performing Arts students also represent the school to high acclaim in the local area and around the country. Dance ensembles have recently performed at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, The Lowry, Manchester (as part of the national U-Dance Festival) and at the ICC Birmingham (as part of the SSAT National Conference). Our choirs have performed alongside ensembles including Ascot Brass and Taplow Choirs, and won categories within competitions including the Wycombe Orpheus Festival of Young Musicians and the Marlow and Maidenhead Music Festivals.


The school is fortunate in having its own theatre with a sprung floor which can be adapted to suit Dance, Drama and Music productions. It has professional sound and lighting systems; high-spec projector and cyclorama and various other “toys” for special effects. The theatre also has movable raked seating, which has just been refurbished, allowing the space to be used in several different ways. The Music rooms are fully equipped for specialist teaching at all levels including Mac computers, a Yamaha grand piano and assorted percussion; we also have several instrumental teaching rooms and a recording studio. Our Chapel, which includes a traditional pipe organ, is used for sacred music concerts and our Wethered Room, featuring another concert standard piano and harpsichord, is regularly used for examinations and chamber concerts. A few years ago we returned the original school hall in the cloisters back to its original purpose as a performance space, and have converted it into a fully-equipped studio theatre. We have a sprung-floor Dance Studio with mirrors and barres which is used for lessons and dance clubs.  

Arts Dinner

We celebrate the year’s performances in the Performing Arts at an annual dinner for the senior students and staff. Everyone who has contributed to making the busy programme of events possible across the year is invited and there are live performances as well as film-footage of the highlights.

Peripatetic Music Service

Borlase offers its own Peripatetic Music Service for students who wish to undertake one-to-one instrumental and/or vocal lessons. We currently have 14 visiting peripatetic music teachers who can provide specialist teaching in up to 16 separate instruments. For more information, please see the Music Department page.

Covid-19 update

We are very pleased to confirm that we will be undertaking a range of Performing Arts activities for all year groups from September 2020. We are working hard to ensure these meet all the necessary guidance and requirements, and we will be announcing our amended extracurricular timetable shortly.  Please see the specific Academic Department pages for further information.


KAY MOUNTFIELD Head Teacher and Director of Performing Arts, Production and Direction.
LAUREN ANDERSON Head of Drama, Production and Direction.
SETH MIALL Associate Assistant Head, Director of Music.   Musical Direction - Orchestral, Choral, Musical Theatre.
DR BEN PARSONS Assistant Head, Teacher of Music.  Musical Direction – Orchestral, Choral, Strings specialist.
CLAIRE HINDLEY Part Time Dance Teacher, previously Head of Dance. Choreography; Dance across the curriculum.
SARAH RAYNER Drama & English Teacher.  Production and Direction.

Head of Year 11 and Head of Dance. Choreography, Dance Technique, EVOLVE – elite Dance Company.

JASON TUCKER Dance Teacher

Performing Arts Technician. Sound & Apple specialist, Technical Theatre Club, Technical Theatre, Production and Direction.

MARK HARTLEY Artistic Director of JAM Theatre Company, Marlow; Teacher of Technical Theatre; Set and Lighting Design and Construction; Musical Direction, Director of the Jazz Orchestra.
CHARLOTTE MORRIS Administrator, Box Office, Bars Manager.
HUGH ROBSON English Teacher, Chapel Organist; Piano, organ and harpsichord accompanist.
JENNY HOPPER Head of MFL; Violinist and piano accompanist.
CHRISTINE GARROW Peripatetic Music Service Administrator

We also have several in-house Peripatetic Music Teachers led by Seth Miall.

Peripatetic Music & Drama Teachers

We currently offer tuition is 16 separate instruments (including singing), provided by 13 teachers. We adapt to the needs of our pupils so where there is sufficient demand, we will work to provide lessons in school. We also offer LAMDA teaching.

In recruiting our teachers we insist that not only should they be expert teachers, but that they are actively working players. We think this is an important ingredient in ensuring that our students become accomplished performers as well as players, and this is borne out by the excellent contribution their students make to our school concerts and productions.

  • Mrs Minor Atabek (Violin/Piano & Conductor of Junior Strings' Orchestra)
  • Mr John Bailey (Piano)
  • Mrs Leonie Cormack-Cook (Voice)
  • Mrs Sue Cossins (Cello/Woodwind)
  • Mr Simon Davie (Brass & Director of Jazz Bands)
  • Mrs Jean Garrett (Piano & Piano Accompanist)
  • Mr Jason Reeve (Percussion/Piano)
  • Mrs Gilly Ross (Voice & Director of Cambiata Boys' Choir) 
  • Mr David Shannon (Guitar)
  • Mrs Marilyn Vanryne (Violin/Viola)
  • Mr Robert Vanryne (Brass & Director of Brass Ensemble)
  • Mrs Emma Walker (Woodwind)
  • Mr David Young (Guitar)

We also have students who take leadership roles which make it possible for us to offer the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities. These include Choir and Ensemble Musical Directors; Dance Leaders, Drama Club Leaders, Stage Managers and Technical Designers.