KES Arts Festival 2022

24 June 2022

On Monday 20 June we kicked off with the 2022 KES Arts Festival! A three-day extravaganza of creative workshops, lectures, activities, concerts and competitions to explore creativity. This year’s theme challenged pupils to interact with their creative thinking, problem solving and broader relationship with creativity in relation to the wider world of work.

Pupils were invited to attend a multitude of workshops, lectures, performances and of course, the open-air festival with live music and theatre. From unusual cheese pairing to slam poetry, art attack to salsa, jazz concerts and art exhibitions, there was truly something for everyone. Below we’ve captured a few highlights from the festival.


Strictly Come KES

To kick off the KES Arts Festival on Monday, a KES Strictly Come Dancing competition took over the morning assembly. Three couples took to the floor, showing off their foot and hip work, while our four judges (Mr Piggott, Miss Crompton, Mr Parker and Ese) were ready to score. Mrs Gilmour and Mr Lawson kicked off, with Ms Speck and Mr Jackson second, followed by Mr Collinson and Mr Powell. Judges and student votes were combined, crowning Mr Collinson and Mr Powell the winners. It was a truly hilarious and joyful start to the festival, thank you to our fantastic contestants and judges!


All First Year pupils enjoyed a hands on and at times marvellously loud African drumming workshop. Second Year pupils developed their stage combat in a day of workshops and Fourth Year GCSE Art pupils were fortunate enough to spend the day with artist Jeanette Barnes. Following the day’s events, the evening offered a wonderful art exhibition of pupils’ work from across the year groups. The Art department also hosted a lecture from Tim Craven on creating the Southampton Art Gallery collection.  

Visiting Old Edwardians

In the afternoon, two Old Edwardians provided talks to our Sixth Form students. Paul Eyers (OE 95-97), Creative Business Partner at Google (New York) joined us virtually, providing students with an insight into his career since leaving KES, and his experience working in creative roles and now at Google. And we welcomed James Billett (OE 00-07) through our doors, who masterminded a surprising career move from the music industry to aviation. James spoke to students about the important of resilience. Thank you to both of our Old Edwardians who joined us!


Jazz Concert

As part of the Arts Festival, KES Swing Band and Big Band joined forces with professional jazz performers for a side by side concert on Tuesday. This preceded with a fantastic afternoon of workshops where students worked on the art of improvisation and got to talk to experienced professionals about jazz performance and instrumental techniques. Led by Mr Carrasco and Mr Doherty the concert was stunning. The quality of music making was outstanding. Special congratulations go to Elias who performed My Funny Valentine with professional accompaniment and produced a sound and musicianship to rival any experienced pro! A wonderful treat for the audience, huge congratulations to all.


Partnership Schools

We were delighted to welcome partnership pupils to the KES Arts Festival for a day of creativity and fun. Workshops were provided that challenged pupils to explore their creative skills in singing, choreography and staging alongside an array of exciting activities. Pupils were encouraged to explore their creative thinking through circus skills, pebble painting and even a petting zoo! Pupils from Springhill, Stroud and Wordsworth ended their day at KES with a concert in the Dobson Theatre featuring the best creative performers from the KES student body. With a dance, juggling and collect of instrumentalist to entertain them, all visitors left with a renewed feeling of joy, inspiration and fun.

Field Takeover

After lunch, all students and staff had a magnitude of activities to get involved in. To the back drop of live music performances, students were able to meet pigs and goats with Millers Ark Animals, have a go at Aerial Display, get their faces painted and enjoy many games and activities.

Members of staff formed departmental teams and competed in a tug of war on the last day. English, Maths, Humanities, Creative Arts, Sport, Science and Non-Teaching Staff were all represented, and fought for the title in a series of heats… in the heat! In the end it was the non-teaching staff team who took home the trophy. Well done to all who took part – we’ve heard quite a look of complaints of aches and pains in the corridors since! 

Open Air Theatre

To draw the Festival to a close, Box House Theatre Company Southampton performed an open-air theatre piece. First to Fourth Years were treated to ‘Twisted Tales’, a platform theatre piece where a group of thespians stumble upon an ominous book filled with grisly and gory tales. Each time the group enter the book, they become the book's puppets and are destined to tell the folk tales, each time concluding with an unexpected twist. It was a fantastic way to end our Arts Festival, and make the most of the sunshine.

Thank you to all who took part in the many amazing activities and to staff and friends who made it all happen. We hope students enjoyed the festival, and have a new-found appreciation for all things creative. The Arts Festival will return to KES in 2024, with the turn of the Science Festival for 2023.

I find it so difficult to tell you my personal highlights. I loved the Art Exhibition. I found the Jazz Concert inspirational. Judging the staff Strictly KES Dancing competition was a delight and an eye-opener – and then judging our student Bake Off was yummy! Wednesday afternoon’s fun and games in the sunshine had a lovely community feel, and I could easily list so many more events both small and large which were packed in to three short days. I hope that your child found an outlet for their creativity this week, and enjoyed the many activities on offer. There truly was something for everyone.

Mr Parker, Head