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From Caves to Cathedral

The new year saw one of the most remarkable events ever to have been organised at Woodroffe – an evening at Exeter Cathedral celebrating eighteen months work as a Department for Education (DfE) Cultural Education Lead School. Entitled From Caves to Cathedral, the evening showcased a dazzling array of talent not only from Woodroffe but from schools who work alongside us as part of The Jurassic Coast Teaching School Alliance. As well as students from schools across the region, the local music charity Bsharp played a key role thanks to support from Youth Music, the Arts Council and West Dorset District Council.

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Watch the Live Recorded Movies and download a Programme from the Event HERE

The evening was made particularly memorable due to the support of a really impressive group of professional writers and musicians. John K. Miles, the brilliant saxophonist and musical educator, led a superb band of musicians, and we were incredibly fortunate to have not one but two pieces of literature written especially for us, one by renowned poet Greta Stoddart, the other by the prizewinning author, Ellen Renner, both good friends of the school. Their work can be read in the commemorative programme which is available on our website.

Woodroffe ’Music and Artwork Inspired by the Caves

The event has its origins in a teacher training event which took place in November 2013 when teachers met to discuss how cultural education could be developed across the 35 schools within the Teaching Schools Alliance. They were keen to celebrate the work produced during the course of the project and felt it would be a more coherent exercise if it had a specific theme - hence the idea of exploring the journey of the stone from Beer Quarry caves to the building of Exeter cathedral.

Colyton ’The Miner's Candle'

We are particularly grateful for the support of John Scott, the custodian of the caves, and his team of guides who have patiently and enthusiastically told and retold the story of the quarry caves to the 500 young people and teachers who visited the caves as part of this project between May and September last year.

Holyrood Academy 'Music Inspired by the Caves'

The real stars of the show were, of course, the students, and the audience was treated to an incredibly professional and imaginative series of performances including a mixed choir of children from three local primary schools, multi-media presentations, and 56 of our own Year 9 students singing music composed especially for them.

The aim of the grant was to explore good practice and to encourage other schools to get involved. With so many teachers and pupils taking part, I am sure that we have more than fulfilled the brief and there is a huge amount of evidence of all the other activities we have arranged as part of the programme on the teaching school website Special thanks must go to Dot Wood, Direct or Art, who has organised and led a huge range of events for both students and teachers over the past couple of years.

A huge well done to all involved.

Dr Richard Steward, Headteacher

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“Before the performance I didn’t feel very excited but when I walked into the cathedral I couldn’t wait to perform. After the performance I felt very proud and was really happy I didn’t make any mistakes.”


“I really enjoyed the cave concert experience as it was very exciting and really helped me to gain my confidence and feel comfortable when singing in front of an audience. I think that everyone did amazingly and it was brilliant to see the cathedral filled with people.
I hope that I can be involved in another project like this one in the future.”


“When we went to the caves and told we had to write creatively I never expected it to end up in such a massive performance. It was powerful and inspiring.”


“It was an amazing performance that I was very proud to be a part of. It is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life! The cathedral was amazing and I loved performing with the band. It was a fantastic experience.”


“As soon as I sat down in the cathedral I felt my confidence and excitement rising as I knew this night would be awesome. It was an amazing experience and I would love to do it again. It was a great opportunity and singing with the primary schools created a good harmony.”


“I really liked the whole project because of the opportunities it offered to us all. Also I loved the fact we were in a place made from the stone from the quarry we had visited. I loved the musicians that helped us as well. I hope that future years can have this sort of opportunity.”


“I loved the atmosphere and how the sound projected round the cathedral. I also enjoyed connecting together as a group to stand and express our sound without restrictions. I also thought the history of the quarry stone and how it was made into this amazing cathedral showed throughout the performance.”


“When I left the cathedral I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. I also thought the musicians we performed with were amazing particularly Winston the drummer. I learnt a lot from watching him as I also play the drums. I would like to do it all over again.”