Performing Arts - Drama & Music

Drama is a curriculum subject for all pupils in Year 7, 8 and 9. Our approach to Drama is skill based, equipping students with the necessary technical ability to succeed at GCSE level, A Level and beyond.

We use a range of stimulus such as poetry and music as a starting point for devised work. Students are introduced to theatrical genres including Physical Theatre and Melodrama and explore published play texts to develop both vocal and physical skills. Students are introduced to theatrical genres including Physical Theatre, Theatre in Education and Melodrama.

Lessons are taught in purpose built studios in the Emmaus building, where students have access to sound and lighting equipment in order to aid their learning. Core assessments take place after every scheme of learning and involve working practically in a group.  These sublevels are recorded and made available to parents. Students are given written feedback and set targets on how to improve. 

Drama GCSE (OCR)

The GCSE course offers students the opportunity to build on performance skills acquired at KS3 and is designed to develop students’ understanding and awareness of how to create and rehearse theatre.  Students will develop skills required for performing in front of a live audience and will learn how to prepare both devised and scripted work for performance.  GCSE Drama students will study a range of play texts as well as having the opportunity to experience and appreciate as much live theatre as possible.

GCSE Drama is assessed both theoretically and practically with students taking part in a number of performances, one devised and one scripted, as well as completing a written exam at the end of Year 11.

GCSE Drama specification (J316)

Drama and Theatre  A Level (OCR)

Study at this level involves the exploration of contrasting set texts from the perspective of actor and director and the exploration of theatrical styles and influential practitioners.The practical units require students to adopt the principles and work ethic of a range of practitioners; working within a group to achieve specific dramatic intentions in performance. The creative process involves intensive and dedicated rehearsals and will require students to be self disciplined, motivated and committed at all times.

Drama and Theatre students are introduced to a range of performance styles taking inspiration from companies such as Frantic Assembly. Successful Exam Performance work has previously included ‘Two’ by Jim Cartwright, ‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ by Jim Cartwright, ‘Metamorphosis’ by Steven Berkoff and ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by RSC. Exam performances, when possible, are presented in the evening and performed to an invited adult audience.

A Level Drama and Theatre specification (H459)

Whole School Production

A whole day is dedicated to auditioning for the School Musical which is open to all students, not just those studying the subject. We ask students to complete an audition form with photograph which is the starting point for quite a rigorous audition process. We aim to involve as many students as possible and make casting decisions appropriate to the show and the talent and commitment shown by the student. Those who are interested in technical theatre can also gain experience of lighting, sound and stage management and we have a full orchestra giving provision to our best musicians. Previous productions include Guys and Doll’s, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Oliver!, Our House, We Will Rock You, Fame and Cinderella. 

Theatre Visits

We aim to give all students the opportunity to attend a live theatre performance and regularly arrange visits to local theatres.

Year 7 students have attended performances of ‘Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ at The Liverpool Empire and Year 9 have been to see Theatre Clwyd’s annual Rock ’n’ Roll Panto. Year 10 and 11 students are taken to see a number of live productions that they then review as part of the assessed course.

Year 12 and 13 students are exposed to a range of theatre at venues including Storyhouse, The Lowry, Home and the Liverpool Playhouse. We also make use of the live feed from The National Theatre, London at Vue Cinema, Cheshire Oaks, where we were lucky enough to see ‘One man, Two Guvnors.’

Year 5 and Year 6 students from local primary schools are also invited to attend some of our student performances including our School Production matinee performance before we open to the public. 


Miss C Bradley - Head of Drama - BA (Hons) Drama and Psychology (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Miss Bradley graduated with a Joint Honours Degree in Drama and Psychology from Manchester Metropolitan University.  Alongside her study, she sang regularly at weddings, events and functions and took on principal roles in a number of pantomimes such as Aladdin and Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk.  

Miss Bradley joined the Catholic High School in September 2015 after teaching for three years in Leeds.  Whilst working in education Miss Bradley has co-directed a number of successful productions, including two Connections plays that were invited to be staged at the National Theatre in London.  Miss Bradley has also directed devised pieces that have been performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse as part of the Open Season. 

Miss L Vasey - BA (Hons) in Music Theatre, PGCE (University of Chester)


Music is part of the Performing Arts faculty and has a long and fine tradition at the Catholic High School; in particular excellence in ensemble performance provides an inspiration for the broader range of musical activities undertaken.

The Emmaus Performing Arts Block is the home of a thriving Music Department which hosts 2 large teaching rooms with interactive whiteboards and quality ICT facilities allowing students to explore a wider range of genres using state of the art software packages, 4 practice rooms and a Live room. The Lyceum theatre plays host to many of the schools live performances presented by our Performing Arts Faculty. 

Studying Music at The Catholic High School

At Key Stage 3, students are encouraged to explore a wide range of musical genres, ranging from early blues to traditional African and South American Samba music through to experimental and club dance styles. In Year 7, 8 and 9 all boys and girls sing as part of their Musical Futures model curriculum which includes musical composition, and performing in small groups on Vocals, Keyboards, Bass Guitar and Drums, leading to performances at school events and concerts.
Students choosing to study Music at GCSE follow the new AQA syllabus. There is the opportunity to perform on their chosen instrument/voice, create compositions to a set brief and of their own choosing; studying music from Haydn (Symphony No1 ‘The Clock) through to Jazz, Popular Music (The Beatles ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’), Traditional Music (Santana ‘Supernatural’) and various world music genres.

Students follow the Edexcel specification for the Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Music (performing). The particular benefit of this course is that in addition to the high standard of musical performance required, it provides learners with a ‘hands on’ experience of the many roles within the music industry, which they may choose to study. This two-year diploma course thoroughly prepares our students for study at under graduate level on completion of their study at school.

There is a host of performing groups and students in assemblies, lunchtime recitals and formal concerts give regular performances. Students take part in regional and national musical festivals and competitions, and the schools jazz orchestra tour regularly to perform in major venues in Europe. 

Music 2016 onwards


Yr12 and Yr13

BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Music (Performing) (Specification)
Unit 19:  Music and Society
Unit 23:  Music Performance Techniques
Unit 27:  Music Theory and Harmony
Unit 30:  Pop Music in Practice
Unit 33:  Solo Music Performance Skills
Unit 40:  Working and Developing as a Musical Ensemble 

Co-Curricular Music Activities

There are performing groups, which cater for a wide range of interests, including jazz ensemble, saxophone ensemble, choir, samba band, junior stage band, upper woodwind ensemble and worship band. Students are also encouraged to form their own pop bands. 

The City Jazz Orchestra & Singers

The City Jazz Orchestra & Singers were formed in September 1990 under the musical direction of Head of Music Kevin Tout. The musicians and singers who comprise this ensemble represent just a small percentage of the many hundreds of students who pass through our busy and vibrant music department each week.
The ensemble has achieved remarkable success in both domestic and national competitive music festivals taking over thirty top awards. City Jazz were 1998 runners up at The National Festival of Music for Youth Jazz Finals staged at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester - taking the 'Highly Commended' Performance Award. The ensemble made their third appearance at the National Festival of Music for Youth Jazz Finals held at the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire in July 2005.

The ensemble have recorded four CDs 'Going Places' was recorded in 1996 to commemorate the City Jazz Orchestra's tour to Italy. 'Then and Now' was recorded in February of 2002 and is an excellent example of the band's versatility in performance. City Jazz 'The Divas Album' and City Jazz 'Celebration' were both recorded between June 12 - 26 2007 and bare testimony to just how far this ensemble had come since their formation.
The City Jazz Orchestra have undertaken twenty eight European Tours over the last twenty four years, and received an unbelievable reception whilst performing at the Cork International Jazz Festival, Ireland in October of 2003, 2005 - 2013(consecutive performances)

The ensemble is to appear at this festival by popular demand yet again in October 2014. The City Jazz Orchestra & Singers ended this year’s hectic performance schedule with a five day tour to Amsterdam, Netherlands in July 2014.
The City Jazz Orchestra & Singers offers young musicians/singers the opportunity to develop their performance skills to a very high standard. The emphasis has, and always will be on the student's enjoyment of music. Our musicians and vocalists develop a real confidence in themselves and in so doing, realise their full potential. 

The Catholic High School Choir

The Catholic High School Choir performs a varied repertoire of music ranging from hymns through to modern commercial styles. The newly formed choir perform at a number of school events including Christmas Concerts and Celebration of Achievement Evenings and are led by Mr Hardwick.

Stage Band One
This ensemble is open to musicians from Yr5 primary through to KS4 providing an excellent grounding in jazz improvisation and general stage band repertoire for all wind and rhythm section players.

Music Tuition
Tuition is available in: Strings, Brass, Wind, Percussion, Vocals, as well as piano, classical guitar, jazz piano, drums & electric/ bass guitar. 

Staff Profiles

Mr Kevin Tout  BA Hons  AMusTCL ATCL (Head of Music)

Mr Tout graduated from The Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall in 1971, studying Trumpet under Ian Macintosh principal trumpet with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Harmony/Arranging with Stuart Watts. He became a featured soloist with the Regimental Band of H.M. Coldstream Guards on many ceremonial and state occasions, radio broadcasts and studio recordings; to a freelance trumpet career in theatre and studio, working with various celebrities of the entertainment business. Film work includes Ken Russell’s ‘Savage Messiah’ (1972), James Bond ‘ Live and Let Die’ (Premiere 1973) and Bryce Courtenay’s ‘The Power of One’ (1992). Resident engagements have included Cunard and P&O Cruise Lines, visiting the Caribbean, Australia and the South Pacific, to Rio de Janeiro and World Cruises on the P&O flag ship Canberra and Oriana.

Mr Tout joined the teaching staff at the Catholic High School in 1989 initially working with instrumentalists and was appointed Musical Director of the schools renowned City Jazz Orchestra & Singers a year later. Among many highlights in this time Mr Tout has taken the ensemble to festival success at both regional and national level, taking over 30 top awards. City Jazz has undertaken 26 European tours since their formation in 1990, and have headlined at the Cork International Jazz Festival consecutively for the last ten years. 

Mr Liam Hardwick BA(Hons) Band Musicianship

Mr Hardwick studied at Salford University, gaining a First Class Honours Degree in 2008, specialising in Performance, Musical Direction, Jazz Arrangement and Composition. Whilst at university, he won awards in both composition and performance finishing top of his year. He spent many years working as a professional musician, musical director and teacher. His professional career has seen him travel the world for Princess Cruises as a musical director, with Hawaii, Venice and The Caribbean being his favourite places to visit. Mr Hardwick also runs his own events company and plays in bands at weddings, events and festivals all over the UK and Europe.

Mr Hardwick is an ex-student of The Catholic High School, Chester and previous drummer in The City Jazz Orchestra. Since joining the Catholic High School’s Performing Arts Faculty as a member of staff in 2014, Mr Hardwick has taken on the role of Musical Director for the fabulous production of “We Will Rock You”, the director of the school’s choir and also takes the lead in the Year 5 Big Sing events and musical soiree’s thought the year. 

Visiting Music Teachers

Piano - Mr W Hay
Violin/Viola – Miss J Bradberry
Percussion - Mr D Barchelard
Electric/Classical Guitar – Mr R Goodwin
Brass - Mr K Norbury
Woodwind – Mr P Leonard
Woodwind – Miss R Owen