Performing Arts

The performing arts help to develop each pupil intellectually, socially and pastorally. The performing arts engage with the entire school curriculum. Drama, Music and Dance’s public aspects – performing and sharing work with others – provide important links between the pupils, parents and the wider community. Above all, the performing arts at Tormead strive to be enjoyable, accessible and actively involve pupils in different ways and at all levels. The performing arts have a vital part to play within Tormead’s academic curriculum, providing a unique outlet for self-expression, creativity, teamwork and fun.

Our ethos at Tormead is to enable our pupils to feel comfortable and confident when performing to an audience, whatever their performance level.


Music is central to school life at Tormead.  Pupils make music at over 60 events each academic year, with additional opportunities for informal performances.

Tormead has a 25-strong team of Music teachers and instrumental specialists.  Nearly 50% of pupils learn an instrument in school and a range of co-curricular ensembles enhances the music curriculum.

Wider Opportunities

Music has taken Tormead pupils all over the UK and beyond.  We hold a biennial music tour to Europe, with previous tours to Germany, Italy and France.  Closer to home, pupils have recently performed concerts, recitals and choral services at a number of venues including Winchester, Southwark and Portsmouth Cathedrals, G-Live and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. 

Many of Tormead’s outstanding musicians pursue music at a high level outside school as members of groups including National Youth Harp Orchestra, Surrey Youth Choir, Guildford County Wind Band, Guildford Cathedral Choir, and South West Surrey Concert Band.

Music scholars and exhibition holders follow a programme of enrichment and extension including workshops, masterclasses and concert visits.

Tormead runs an endangered instruments scheme, offering ten fully-funded places to learn an endangered instrument each academic year.  This year places have been offered on bassoon, double bass, french horn, oboe, orchestral percussion, trombone and viola.

  • Music Curriculum

    We follow the Eduqas A level music syllabus which focuses on the three core elements of appraising, composing and performing.

    Appraising (40%)
    Pupils study works from the Western Classical Tradition, Musical Theatre and C20th.

    Performing and Composing (60%)
    Pupils can choose whether to major in composition or performance.  They put together a portfolio of either two or three compositions and perform a recital of 6-8 minutes or 10-12 minutes accordingly.

  • Co-curricular

    Co-curricular music thrives at Tormead with larger bands and orchestras and smaller ensembles accommodating musicians of all abilities.  Over 20 ensembles rehearse every week with large-scale performances featuring pupils in their hundreds to music festivals and more intimate soloist evenings.
    Our co-curricular ensembles include:


    • Schola Cantorum
    • Chamber choir
    • Sound Intentions
    • Tormead Vox
    • Tormead Young Voices



    • Concert Band
    • Symphony Orchestra
    • Jazz Band
    • String Orchestra
    • Brass Ensemble
    • Clarinet Choir
    • Senior and Junior Percussion ensembles
    • Chamber Ensembles including saxophone quartet, clarinet trio, Mozart Players, The Rosen Band and scholars ensembles
    • Musical Pit Band



    • Theory Club
    • GCSE and A level composition
    • Music Scholars

Individual instrumental lessons

Nearly 50% of Tormead pupils learn an instrument in school.  Our visiting music teachers offer pupils lessons on a wide range of instruments with lessons available from beginner level to diploma and beyond.  Tormead has a limited number of school instruments for loan.

Current Tormead pupils can request individual music lessons by completing an online form here.


The aims of Tormead Drama are threefold: enjoyment, innovation and self-expression. It has a unique place in the school curriculum. We aim to give every Drama student skills that are transferable and useful in the wider world, such as co-operation, self-control and, most importantly, self-confidence, through a wide and varied curricular and extra-curricular programme. 

A recent Russell Group survey asked the HR departments of all the FTSE 250 companies what were the most important qualities they looked for in an employee. The two most common answers were teamwork and communication – both skills which are implicit in drama lessons. We promote a job in the arts as a possibility to be considered and therefore, encourage and invite professionals in, to teach workshops whenever possible. We make our girls aware of external events and opportunities, as well as offering a varied plethora of internal activities for them to be involved in, both on stage and behind-the-scenes. 

“Being involved in Tormead Drama activities has been a hugely rewarding experience, encouraging me to experiment and explore new concepts from the past, present and future in a highly creative and fun environment.” 

Poppy, Tormead Drama student
  • AS and A Level Courses

    The AS and A Level courses look at the totality of what makes successful theatre, from conception to realisation. Students will be provided with access to the best resources in contemporary theatre through regular theatre visits, workshops and the excellent facilities we have available in the purpose-built JCS Performing Arts building. Drama A Level at Tormead is very much a hands-on process, where much time is spent thinking, creating and doing. Every component must be developed using the techniques and working methods of either an influential theatre practitioner or a recognised theatre company. We study the Eduqas specification in the Sixth Form and this helps students to build upon the practitioners studied at GCSE, such as Brecht, Stanislavski and Frantic Assembly, as well as study a wide range of new ones at A Level, such as Emma Rice, Katie Mitchell and Gecko.

    As at GCSE, candidates can be entered as design students with options such as make-up, costume, set design, lighting and sound available for assessment instead of performance.

    We aim to provide information and advice for those that wish to continue with drama in higher education and university. Information regarding Drama Clubs, courses, auditions, television agencies, events and opportunities, both in and out of school, are shared with girls regularly. There is also a copy of ‘The Stage and Television Today’ newspaper, which is the industry magazine and gives all manner of advice to amateurs, professionals, students and teachers alike, available from our library.

  • How is the course examined?

    Component 1: (60% of AS/20% of A Level) involves the creation, development and performance of a piece of theatre based on a reinterpretation of an extract from a play eg perform a scene from an existing script but devise a new ending. This is a mixture of devising and scripted work so students get the best of both worlds!

    Component 2: (40 % of A Level only) students take part in the creation, development and performance of two pieces of theatre: a devised piece and an extract from a script.

    Component 3: (40% of AS/A Level) involves the study of three great plays: ‘Machinal’ by Sophie Treadwell (AS and A Level), ‘Love and Information’ by Caryl Churchill (A Level only) and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, directed by Marianne Elliott (A Level only). These plays will be explored practically throughout the course to prepare candidates thoroughly for a written examination.

Extra-curricular Drama

We operate an inclusive ethos and stage at least two productions per year, involving girls from every year group within the Senior School. The style of each production varies to ensure we show a range of comedies, tragedies, modern and classics. Every other year, the school stages a musical. Recent productions have included ‘Pygmalion’, ‘Mama Yankee’s Life Machine’, ‘Guys and Dolls’ and ‘Our Town’. Girls are encouraged not only to act but also to help in other areas of theatrical production, such as stage management, costume, make-up, lighting and sound. Theatre Technical Club runs once a week to cater for these students and is regularly led by the Sixth Form Technical Theatre Mentors. Sixth Form Drama Captains and Subject Scholars often volunteer to assist with weekly Lower Drama Clubs, which can lead to them directing a production with a particular year group. One recent production saw a Year 8 performance of ‘The Highwayman’ to the whole of Years 5 and 6.

Sixth Formers regularly take part as performers, directors and choreographers in the Glee Musical Theatre Club and the work undertaken here often leads to public performances in the form of assemblies, small scale productions or as part of the annual Drama, Music and Art Evening. Tormead also hosts an annual House Drama competition where entries are written/devised, auditioned, cast and directed by the Sixth Form House Captains, with a cast selected from girls in Years 8 and 9, all under the supervision of a member of staff.

Theatre Visits and Workshops
There are at least four theatre trips organised annually as A Level Drama students are required to experience live theatre performances as part of the course. Highlights have included trips to see ‘The Woman in Black’, Frantic Assembly’s ‘The Unreturning’, Florian Zeller’s ‘The Son’, Kneehigh’s ‘Flying Lovers of Vitebsk’ and Little Bulb’s production of ‘Orpheus’. Pupils also take part in at least one bespoke workshop by an outside practitioner each year. Most recently, we have welcomed Splendid Productions, The Paper Birds and Frantic Assembly to Tormead. We also have good links with the wider community such as the Drama Departments at Guildford School of Acting and at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford and we often undertake joint ventures, such as workshops and productions with their students and staff. 

Stretching our Most Talented Pupils 

Nationwide initiatives, such as the National Theatre Connections Project, the Shakespeare Schools Festival or the Leatherhead Drama Festival,  give students the chance to perform on professional stages. Girls are guided through auditions for outside companies such as the National Youth Theatre, G Live Creative Company, Monologue Slam UK and for television work with casting agencies.

6th Form Theatre Club

A new initiative was launched recently in the form of a ‘6th Form Theatre Club’, in which the Drama Scholars stage a play with a cast made up solely of Sixth Formers – this allows the girls to experience working with a smaller, older cast of peers and create the atmosphere and ethos of a professional theatre company.

LAMDA speech and drama
Speech & Drama is a very popular extra-curricular subject at Tormead. Two highly-experienced and qualified teachers work with small groups of students in a dedicated examination space to develop their communication and performance skills.

Students are encouraged to work creatively and sympathetically with each other to acquire knowledge, develop technical skills and have fun in a relaxed, positive atmosphere. The ability to express themselves articulately, whilst remaining relaxed and confident, is an invaluable life skill.

LAMDA examinations are held at Tormead twice a year and Grades 6, 7 and 8 earn UCAS tariff points.

Where next?

Sixth Form

Outreach and volunteering