Interview: Mrs Sue Hughes, Drama Teacher

Ilkley Primary - Drama

Mrs Sue Hughes has been appointed as our new, specialist Drama Teacher. We at Ghyll Royd are very fortunate to have such an experienced and passionate teacher join our team who will inspire and propel the children’s interests in drama. We spoke to Mrs Hughes ahead of her first lesson to find out what she has planned.

Welcome to Ghyll Royd School Mrs Hughes. What are you most looking forward to?

Thank you! I am utterly delighted to be starting at Ghyll Royd! It’s such a treat to be so warmly welcomed into the lovely family environment of your school! The children have been so delightful; I’m very much looking forward to getting to know each and every one of them.

From what I’ve seen so far, Ghyll Royd shares many of my own long-held values regarding education. It’s so very important in public speaking and the dramatic arts to create a caring learning environment that warmly encourages children to get to know themselves. It gives them the confidence to express their ideas as they grow into the world around them.

I will be working hard to give the children the skills to allow them to confidently flourish in their own art, but equally importantly, I will be equipping them with the tools to be courteous, supportive and kind to the other children as they in turn express themselves.

Why is drama so important to young children?

Drama is so incredibly important in young people. I like to use the analogy of a second language; if a child grows up speaking more than one language, their brains will develop in such a way that it will be second nature to them. When they use their second language as an adult it won’t feel scary, it will just be what they’re used to, what they know they’re good at!

Public speaking and drama work in much the same way. If you encourage children and support them in expressing their ideas to their peers when they’re young, it won’t be a scary hurdle to think about way down the line when they’re adults; it will be second nature to them! Not to mention the fun one has when using one’s imagination in drama! It incorporates so many favourite childhood activities; imaginative play, storytelling, dressing up, listening to others.

Tell us a bit about your background:

A little about me! I’ve always loved drama. When I was completing my degree in drama at university I knew that I did not myself want to be an actress, but I wished to use my training to work with children on their confidence-building and self-expression! (Female actors were known as actresses when I was growing up, whereas nowadays it’s more conventional to refer to both girls and boys as actors!) I worked in numerous independent schools, as well as stage schools, before setting up my own drama school, called Performance, for children in Burley-in-Wharfedale, Otley and Menston, which turned 14 last month!

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I’m very lucky to have found myself doing my favourite hobby professionally; I can’t wait to go to work each day! In my spare time I like to go to musicals, films and plays. I live in Ben Rhydding with my husband. My two children, Charlotte and Louis, are grown-up and away at University, but they kindly visit in the holidays to make their bedrooms messy!

What’s your favourite production?

I adore the west end musical Matilda, and would strongly encourage anyone to go and see it. It’s a fantastically enthusiastic production based on the Roald Dahl story, about a clever little girl who loves to read. Tim Minchin rises to the top of the class with his lyrics and musical composition; many of the witty lyrics are laugh-out-loud funny. It’s interesting too in terms of the child actors; the titular character, Matilda, is an introvert, which is not an easy part to pull off for children; it requires a lot of subtlety on stage.

Tell us a bit more about ‘Performance’:

Performance, the drama school I’ve been running for 14 years, is always working towards big productions for theatres such as the King’s Hall in Ilkley. Through rehearsing together and polishing our pieces, so many of our children have grown up in the performance family and are forever popping back to visit the younger pupils, with tales of what they’ve been doing. Many of my pupils have been able to use the formal drama exams they’ve sat with Performance, along with the skills they’ve learnt with us to win places at prestigious universities and even winning highly sought-after scholarships at some of London’s top drama schools, as well as independent secondary schools in the area.
I look forward to bringing my many years of expertise to Ghyll Royd and I can’t wait to see the delights each and every pupil has to offer from their own imagination. I can’t wait to get the children jumping up and down in excitement for their school productions!!

Mrs Hughes joins Ghyll Royd every Friday to teach Drama to all our children. Watch Form 5’s spooky session where they had to pull their scariest, angriest faces here.