You’ll have to excuse me as this post deviates from the usual “Parenting and Lifestyle” theme and makes a back turn to my teacher days. I feel passionately about ex-curricular activities. There are two specific reasons for me writing this post about Rock Challenge:
- One – It was World Teacher’s Day on the 5th October
- Two – I heard some sad news about an event that I used to be involved in when I was a teacher
For those that don’t know, I trained to be a drama teacher in 2006 and resigned in 2018. The aspect of the job that I enjoyed the most was always the extra curricular – drama club, school musicals and productions…and Rock Challenge.
What Is Rock Challenge?
The UK Rock Challenge is the British arm of the Global Rock Challenge. It is an anti-drug and crime-prevention that takes the form of a friendly performing arts competition for schools and colleges. Schools have to create an eight minute theatrical dance performance based on a unique and imaginative theme. They have to design and create everything from soundtrack and choreography to set, costumes and make up. The day itself is like glee…on speed. An action packed day of singing, dancing and, as the afternoon begins, it’s a full on frenzy of hair, make up and costumes.
My school had been part of Rock Challenge since before I even started working there. After the lead teacher left to move to America, my music teacher friend and I took it over. Honestly, those events, the rehearsals and the memories are some of my favourites of my teaching career. Yes, it was totally exhausting. Rock Challenge took up A LOT of time! Rehearsals, organising paperwork, organising the trips to the events, researching, fundraising, making and buy costumes, chasing up students, the actual event days themselves…the list is endless.
My husband knew to tread carefully around me in the few weeks leading up to the competition! I was nervous, excited, stressed and trying to remember the million and one things that needed doing! However, it was all so worth it to see the students confidence on stage. Their smiles and laughter were heart warming. Their friendships across years and other schools lasted year after year. As cheesy as it sounds, we were like a big family.
Then I saw a post by an ex student on Facebook. He had grown up as part of the Rock Challenge family and even volunteered with the main team once he went off to university. The post said that Rock Challenge was discontinued. I looked through the post and saw quotes such as “it shaped me as a person” and “given me the confidence to be as bold as I am today” Wow, what a statement. That in itself shows what performing arts, what Rock Challenge, can do for a student.
Rock Challenge has gone into liquidation. I’m saddened that children are going to miss out on such a positive experience but I can’t say I’m surprised and it got me thinking.
Rock Challenge is a “not-for-profit” organisation. It’s all created and run through fundraising, sponsorship and relying on schools to enter. Each school has to pay per student who enters, usually around £8 (which we got the kids to pay!). Whenever time was discussed in departmental meetings, exam classes always came firstly understandably. At the bottom of the pile is extra curricular. I guess it’s the easiest thing to cut.
Teachers work loads are increasing term by term and this leaves little room for extra curricular, especially one like Rock Challenge that admittedly takes up a lot of time. If teachers don’t have the time to run it, the schools don’t enter and there isn’t enough funds for it to go ahead. I don’t know if this is why it’s happened. It seem viable.
It makes me so sad. When you think about your high school days? What are the highlights? I know, 100%, for my students it’s Rock Challenge. It’s the musicals. Extra curricular gave them confidence, allowed them to form friendships and develop skills for life. School is becoming so much more pressured. Pressure for teachers to meet targets and provide results is at the forefront of schools focus and yes, it is important. However, it’s not EVERYTHING though…is it? This attitude could be why I left teaching. Similarly, I know that for a lot of my friends who are teachers, it’s all about the students and getting them enjoying a subject, in whatever form or structure they can.
Above all, Rock Challenge discontinuing is definitely a sad moment. I’m hoping it won’t be forever. I’d like to think it’ll be resurrected in the future for the new generation of students to take part in, maybe even Lucas and Sienna. If not, I’ll have to be happy knowing that hundreds of students have Rock Challenge in their memory.