Schools

“It’s tragic”: Budget cuts mean Altrincham school’s musical productions are set for final curtain call

By David Prior at

Boys from Altrincham Grammar School will perform their most ambitious musical production to date next week – just as budget cuts are forcing the school to scrap music as an option for sixth formers.

A production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s hit rock opera, will take place at the school over three nights from Wednesday March 22nd.

Over 40 boys – engaged as performers, musicians, stage hands, scenery creators and lighting engineers – and four girls from Altrincham Girls Grammar School have taken part in more than 100 hours of rehearsals to be ready for opening night.

But with cuts to education budgets draining the funding for music – as well as languages such as German and Latin – the show is likely to bring the curtain down on such performances at the school.

Stone Roses singer Ian Brown (right) and guitarist John Squire were pupils at the school

And the Altrincham school which counts The Stone Roses’ Ian Brown and John Squire as well as BBC Northern Orchestra conductor John Hopkins as notable musical alumni – is appealing for audiences to ensure the show is a sell-out to demonstrate the importance of music and the arts in the curriculum.

Head master Tim Gartside said: “As education budgets are reduced, it is often the extra-curricular opportunities and subjects which attract smaller pupil numbers that get squeezed first.

“At AGSB, music is very important to us with our prize-winning bands and orchestras. We are determined to retain music as a strong department because of the huge opportunities it offers to students to enrich their life experiences through love of music and the pleasure of performance.”

Altrincham Grammar School for Boys head master Tim Gartside

He added: “There’s more to good education than league tables. While a school’s exam results are important, it’s vital that students have a wealth of opportunities to broaden their horizons including music and drama. Life skills – confidence to perform in front of an audience, to appreciate music, learn a new instrument or language – should be encouraged, not limited.”

Colin Myers, head of music, said the school had put on 16 musical concerts last year and more than 200 pupils were currently involved with music.

The school’s performance of Jesus Christ Superstar takes place next week

“We have a proud tradition of musical theatre and drama productions and it’s tragic that we’re being forced to scrap music A Level next year: our sixth form musicians are vital in supporting and inspiring young students to be involved with music.

“We hope Jesus Christ Superstar will be a sell-out to demonstrate the love and need for the arts in schools.”

For tickets to Jesus Christ Superstar, which takes place at the school between March 22nd and March 24th, visit the school’s website or call 0161 928 0858.