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30 March 2023
by Ferdinand Steinbeis

Our Top Five Boarding Schools for the Performing Arts

Early summer greetings from Richmond!
In this blog article we'll tell you our absolute favourite boarding schools when it comes to performing arts. Talented students who have been taught here often go on to study at world-famous performing arts universities such as the Julliard School in New York, the Royal College of Music in London or the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.
As always in the UK, academic excellence with IB, A-level and GCSE degrees is also in the foreground at these boarding schools. But right after that, schools with a focus on performing arts will focus on the optimal promotion and development of dance, acting or musical talents. For this, the students are supported by specialised teachers and coaches, and sometimes by famous guest lecturers as well, and get the opportunity to prove their skills on great stages in front of an audience. We'll introduce you to our top 5 boarding schools with outstanding performing arts and answer the questions we at von Bülow hear most often about performing arts in schools.
A singing performance at Hurtwood House (Photo credit Hurtwood House)
Advantages of British boarding schools with the best stage-talent development
Attending a boarding school in the UK has many advantages. All the boarding schools you'll find at von Bülow open doors to coveted study and training places. They contribute to the personal and academic development of the students' individual potentials.
There are a few other advantages to boarding schools with professional performing arts programmes:
  • In addition to specialised teachers, well-known theatre and film actors are often available to the students as coaches
  • Individual talents in the fields of theatre, musical theatre, dance and music are discovered and fostered as much as possible
  • There are regular opportunities to perform in front of an audience
  • In the field of dance, the schools offer a wide range from classical ballet to hip-hop
  • Lessons and rehearsals take place under optimal conditions with the best equipment
  • The distances to the lessons, to the rehearsal rooms and stages as well as the associated risks and travel times are eliminated
  • The creative community strengthens self-confidence, creativity and the ability to work in a team
  • Creative expression is an ideal balance to academic aspirations.
  • There are partial and sometimes full scholarships for the performing arts, as well as other funding opportunities
Theater production 'The Joker' at Gresham's School (Photo credit Gresham's School)
Performing Arts in British boarding schools: Excellence from tradition
Performing arts has always been an important element of British boarding schools, which dates back to a centuries- old tradition and has adapted to the spirit of the times ever since. In previous blog articles we've already shown you our top 5 boarding schools for music . At our favourite schools for aspiring musical virtuosos, the main focus in the field of performing arts is explicitly on music.
Von Bülow's Top 5 boarding schools with the best programmes for theatre, musical theatre and dance in the UK
We can, without hesitation, recommend to you our top list of schools with outstanding performing arts for aspiring dancers, musical performers and actors and musicians. Here, the greatest emphasis is placed on extraordinary teaching with outstanding teachers, a lot of stage experience and modern teaching methods. Some boarding schools are traditional and world-famous stage training grounds. But we also have some which have only gained a great reputation for performing arts and earned a place in our leaderboard in recent years.
Musical at Hurtwood House School (Photo credit Hurtwood House School)
Hurtwood House: A paradise for drama, musical theatre and dance
Hurtwood House is a school of superlatives and describes itself as the most exciting school in the UK. In addition to the very good academic performance of the students, Hurtwood is particularly proud of its creative field. And indeed: aspiring actors, singers, musicians and dancers are offered extraordinary things here. Talents behind the stage or camera and in other artistic fields, such as future media- and filmmakers or fashion designers, also receive the best possible training and useful contacts.
Many famous faces have acquired the necessary tools for their careers here. For example, successful artists such as Emily Blunt have been signed by agents since their time at Hurtwood. Actor Tom Mison is also a Hurtwood graduate and, if he finds time, one of the great guest coaches who give 1:1 acting lessons at Hurtwood. In any case, Hurtwood's theatre department has no equal in the UK. More than a dozen very successful guest coaches on stage and screen ensure that the students develop their full acting potential. The theatre department at Hurtwood also includes dance and musicals with its own productions and performances on various stages as well as in front of the camera. The school is also very good in the field of music: about a third of the students play an instrument or take singing lessons and follow musical careers, such as the Hurtwood graduate Hans Zimmer.
Theater production at Gresham's School (Photo credit Gresham's School)
Gresham's School: IB school with a very good theatre programme
Gresham's School is known not only for very good academic results at GCSE, A-level and IB, but also especially for its very good theatre and music department, an excellent art academy and a strong sports offer. Three large and many smaller performances of their own musical and theatre productions take place every year in the school's own Auden Theatre, which also serves as a stage for professional theatre groups thanks to modern technology. At Gresham's School, students are encouraged to actively participate in the creative process, to try out their ideas in a team and sometimes to take the risk of failing and to recognise others' achievements and creativity. The most famous artist among the Gresham graduates is the Oscar-winning Olivia Colman, who made her stage debut at the Auden Theatre.
In the field of music, Gresham's is one of the Steinway schools and around a third of all the students learn at least one instrument here. The 140-seat Fishmonger's Recital Hall regularly hosts concert performances. In addition, Gresham's School not only has a state-of-the-art recording studio, but it even has its own record label.
Bryanston's Jazzband practicing (Photo credit Bryanston School)
Bryanston School: Creativity and music as the school maxim
Bryanston School is known far beyond the borders of the UK for its overwhelming and first-class creative offer. In addition to visual arts and design in almost every facet, performing arts at the highest level are offered here. In the Tom Wheare music department there are two modern and fully equipped recording studios, many rehearsal rooms and a 300-seat concert hall. Here, the students take a total of around 600 music lessons with highly qualified teachers and coaches every week. The musical genres range from classical music to choirs and orchestras to African drums. For aspiring actors and musical performers, the school's theatre department and the Bryanston Drama diploma are a strong reason to choose this boarding school.
With 15 to 20 productions per school year, there are numerous opportunities to shine on stage here. There is an open-air stage with the Greek Theatre and an indoor theatre with the Coade Hall. Visits to other theatres as well as participation in workshops, seminars and master classes are also part of Bryanston's theatre education.
Sevenoaks Jazz Choir in action (Photo credit Sevenoaks School)
Sevenoaks School: A top school in every respect with great theatre
Sevenoaks School is one of the best boarding schools in the UK. Students achieve incredibly good results at GCSE, A-level and IB here. The fact that Sevenoaks was also included in our top 5 in the field of performing arts is due to the excellent teaching and the wonderful and award-winning performing arts centre called The Space. In addition to a 500-seat theatre, there's everything you could possibly need for music, theatre, musicals and dance here.
For more than 30 years, the Sevenoaks School Theatre Company (SSTC) has had the goal of creating real theatrical art while maximising participation opportunities for all students who are interested. Each year group has many small productions and one large production per school year and the theatre troupes also tour with their performances in Germany and Greece. In the musical field, there are up to 50 performances per year, many of which are planned and organised by the students themselves. Sevenoaks' music students also take part in national competitions and have the opportunity to perform with well-known choirs and orchestras. Sevenoaks’ chamber music groups and choirs also have the opportunity to perform on stages in other European countries such as in Berlin, Malta or Tuscany.
A theatre performance Bedales School (Photocredit Bedales School)
Bedales School: Music, dance and theatre
Unconventional, progressive, liberal and at the same time very successful, the Bedales School stands out from other British boarding schools. Creativity plays one of the greatest roles in the development and promotion of the individualism of each student. So it isn't surprising that Bedales also stands out in terms of performing arts and is especially known for its art, music and theatre departments. In the music department, in addition to the school choir, there are numerous orchestras, ensembles and bands. Particularly talented young musicians receive a timetable which is tailored to them in order to support them as much as possible. A lot of concerts and even a rock show are held every year.
At Bedales, aspiring actors have the opportunity to enrol in the Bedales Assessed Course (BAC) theatre and dance course and to take theatre at A-level. But there are also many opportunities for acting and performances outside of school in the school's own 320-seat Olivier Theatre as well as the brand-new drama and dance studios. Dance is as important to Bedales as acting. The students are encouraged to develop their own choreographies and organise their own performances.
Do you still have questions about British boarding schools with programmes for performing arts?
In addition to the maximum promotion of talents in the performing arts, the schools of our top 5 also provide excellence in all other areas. We'll be very happy to help you find the best boarding school for your child.

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von Bülow Education
Holbrooke House
34 - 38 Hill Rise
TW10 6UA

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Email: info@buloweducation.com