Our aim is to create a welcoming, comfortable space that promotes risk taking, curious minds and positive working relationships with both peers and staff, in order to breed a life-long love and appreciation for the arts.
‘The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.” Timothy 1:6
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in all of us and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” Marianne Williamson
The Drama curriculum is extensive and rich; allowing students the space to develop and explore their creativity and imagination. Drama is vital for communicating with others in school and in the wider world. The curriculum provides invaluable opportunities for students to cultivate their ability to be creative whilst producing high quality, engaging pieces of theatre and broadening their perspective on the world. Due to the growth in the communication technology industry, the ability to be able to articulate and present your ideas with confidence has become more important than ever. In studying drama, students develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing; all skills that are key to the modern and professional world in which we live.
Developing skills in presentation and self-confidence is now a vital quality required in most if not all industries. The drama curriculum cultivates an environment in which these skills can be fostered and built upon. The curriculum promotes the students’ knowledge and understanding of the devising process. Their ability to create engaging drama is underpinned by their understanding and knowledge of theoretical concepts and development techniques. Students will learn about a variety of practitioners, theatre companies and elements of stage management. They will apply their knowledge both practically and through written elements of the course, applying and developing their literacy skills to evidence their understanding. As a department we place emphasis on literacy and follow the whole school literacy initiative of COPS (Capitals, Organisation, Punctuation, Spelling) when marking for literacy errors. Words used within the department in all key stages reflect those likely to be used in the GCSE and A-Level curriculum.
Through the curriculum, students are challenged both physically and emotionally and are given the opportunity to express themselves, their thoughts and their feelings about social issues that may otherwise be difficult to vocalise. A number of conventions are utilised to deepen role-taking to allow students the opportunity to ‘walk in the shoes’ of other people, speak their thoughts, engage in conversation, write their words. Dorothy Heathcote’s approach suggests that children should be at the centre of the learning and places emphasis on the teacher’s role to create a space in which knowledge, leadership, understanding and competency can grow and develop. Our aim is for each and every student to feel comfortable and confident enough to explore their ability freely, to challenge themselves and to be challenged. Alongside staff, students will create a space in which they are able to do this.
We support all students in making progress and ensure each and every child has the opportunity to take part and enjoy their Drama lessons. All students will be encouraged to explore, play and develop their creative minds as an outlet, an explorative tool and a means of communication. Students will be given the opportunity to fully engage with the subject and develop a love and respect for the arts and the experiences it can offer. They will recognise the relationships it can build and the passion it can ignite.
As a department we aim to create an inclusive setting where all students can access the learning, consistently focusing on how this can be practically achieved within our teaching spaces. When designing the curriculum and planning lessons we will ask ourselves the question, ‘What barriers are there in this lesson? How will we ensure all students to access the learning?’ Wright draws attention to the Arts ability to provide an opportunity for students to explore things through creative and non-verbal communication. The Arts ‘involve expressive and symbolic modes of thinking, understanding and knowing, and communicate ideas in a unique manner … they enable us to “say” things to each other that cannot be expressed in any other way’ (Wright, 2003, p.17). We have the opportunity to give all students the space to communicate in ways other than using words, where students can communicate their thoughts, feelings and knowledge in a plethora of ways. The Drama Curriculum is created with the intention of meeting the needs of all students including disadvantaged and SEND students. Our SEND students are consistently supported. Regular dialogue between parents, students, our SENCO and TA’s takes place to ensure we are creating a comfortable environment, where barriers to learning are removed or minimised. Personalised support is given to each child to support their needs and Provision Mapper is used on an ongoing basis. Alongside Provision Mapper, we use a centralised department system to track progress and monitor strategies used and the impact of these (see example list below). If, for any reason, students are unable to attend lessons for a period of time, communication between the department and pastoral support workers ensures that students are carefully prepared and encouraged to return to the lesson. This ensures a smooth and supportive transition back in to the Drama space. The curriculum is created to ensure that students of all abilities can access it by using a wide range of activities and methods of feedback to suit all learning styles. Children with specific needs are taught using knowledge of them as an individual alongside quality first teaching strategies suggested by specialists within the school. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds will also be given financial support, where appropriate, to access educational visits such as trips to the theatre and workshops in school.
The Drama space can be a daunting environment for some students; below are some examples of how we make the Drama curriculum inclusive and accessible for all:
Examples of how the Drama Curriculum is made accessible for all, including SEND and disadvantaged students:
Teaching assistants are invaluable to the Drama department, working alongside teachers to provide all of our students with the opportunity to make best progress whilst also being engaged and enjoying their learning. The ongoing process and intention, is to provide our students with the support they need in becoming independent learners, with a thirst for knowledge. We do this by having a common goal as teachers and Teaching Assistants; to give students the tools they require to build confidence in their own ability and a space in which they feel they can take risks and explore ideas safely. Robyn Ewing (Ewing, 2010) recognises the influence of Drama as an opportunity to increase student agency through ‘authentically sharing power and risk-taking’ (Ewing, 2010, p.41) between teachers, teaching assistants and children. Teaching assistants will support students of all abilities and needs whilst recognising moments of opportunity for students to succeed independently. They play a vital role across the department in developing literacy, engaging students in conversations regarding their target books using key vocabulary and tier 3 vocabulary, encouraging individual responses to targets given. Teaching Assistants are provided with clear instructions at the start of a lesson and conversations have often taken place prior, in order for all students to be supported effectively and in a timely manner during the lesson. Teaching Assistants are also vital in providing further opportunities for GCSE students who require support with their written work. We are fortunate to have Teaching Assistants who have worked through the GCSE specification with us and have a wealth of knowledge of the requirements. If for any reason, students need time out of the classroom, they are able to be supported in making progress.
The Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to develop students’ creativity and their ability to understand and create engaging drama. Students are challenged to explore a range of topics and issues whilst developing their knowledge of theatre and performance skills. Knowledge and skills are re-visited in each year group to consolidate learning and embed understanding. The level of expectation increases throughout each scheme of work as students’ knowledge broadens and their ability to create, perform and respond improves.
The Key Stage 4 curriculum is designed to further develop students’ creativity, their knowledge of theatre and their ability to understand the creative process. Students are taught to be dedicated and hard working in their studies and are challenged to tackle a wide range of topics and issues which may otherwise be difficult to discuss, documenting their process along the way. Students are encouraged to make independent decisions throughout the devising process and to be self-critical. They develop their ability to be brave in exposing their creations and sharing their work; attributes which are highly commended in the wider world in which we live.
The Key Stage 5 curriculum is designed to refine and embed students’ skill set and to develop highly skilled and knowledgeable performers with the ability to analyse the process of creating drama. Students will expand their knowledge of a wide range of practitioners and explore their creative minds through independent learning and exploration. They will explore topics and issues whilst setting their own agenda, taking ownership of their work whilst developing leadership skills. The curriculum offers exposure to a wide breadth of styles of theatre, expanding students’ knowledge, awareness and aspirations. Students have the opportunity to develop their discipline, confidence and ability to accept criticism; all imperative skills to possess in any chosen career.
Throughout the Drama curriculum we acknowledge the importance of cultural capital and the imperative part we play in promoting such an important element of students’ education, personal development and growth. Drama lends itself ideally to explore and develop cultural awareness and knowledge. It also extends itself to developing the skills, knowledge and behaviours that our students require in order to demonstrate their understanding and their ability to contribute successfully to the wider community.
Deeply rooted within each scheme we teach, is the continual development of students’ skills to be confident and articulate when communicating with others; whether that be sharing their own views and opinions, or exploring those of others. Students explore moral issues and learn to embed a message within their work as a means of communicating their awareness and knowledge creatively with an audience. Students also explore the experiences of others, ask questions and develop creative ways in which to identify the answers to such questions. They work collaboratively and respectfully to generate their ideas whilst being an active participant and contributing constructively. Our students develop their understanding of the varied roles within the Performing Arts industry and the processes undertaken in contemporary professional theatre establishments through our extra-curricular provision. They are given ample opportunities to visit the theatre and are exposed to a vast array of cultural experiences. These are often the moments students remember most fondly from their time at school and experiences we are passionate about providing.
Students have the opportunity to perform in a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities. Students’ learning is enriched through their commitment to extra-curricular groups and the variety of opportunities they are given. The department produces musicals, pantomimes, music, art and drama festivals, and showcases both scripted and devised work. We run regular theatre trips throughout the year, making the most of the professional theatres in the surrounding cities. Students have been given the opportunity to work with new, current and exciting scripts alongside the National connections programme. Students are also offered an abundance of time in which to rehearse their pieces before, during and after school in supervised rehearsals. We offer a number of leadership opportunities for our more experienced students; offering directorial responsibility, working alongside younger students in lessons, creating videos to share with students, modelling examples and taking on stage management roles and responsibilities. We have excellent links with external performance companies and professionals within the industry. We invite professional and working actors and performers to run workshops to develop students’ exposure to theatre. Most recently we have had Footlights, the Cambridge University Theatre Group, visiting and running workshops for our Year 7s, GCSE and A-Level groups. We run stage fighting workshops yearly and provide opportunities for students to gain an insight into the technical element of theatre.
Music – Performance skills and the ability to be an active audience.
PE – “Being a good audience”. Developing understanding of how to be a respectful audience. At the start of the year links are made between the subjects using common language and explanations. Exploring opportunities for students to use their performance skills in other ways.
Psychology – Exploring the ability to understand others and the importance of reading non-verbal communication.
English – All Year 7 students read Blood Brothers.
Year 4/5 Days – Drama / Music lead sessions. Useful for assessing performance ability and what performance skills have been explored at primary school.
Year 7 Summer School – provides the opportunity for staff to begin to get an idea of baseline ability.
Personal Information booklets on entry – including any performance groups they attend outside of school.
Baseline assessment – all Year 7 students complete a questionnaire about their experience of Drama in Primary School and any experiences they may have had outside of school.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage Three students are expected to rehearse in their own time in preparation for upcoming performances. A range of homework is set throughout the year based on revision techniques, in order to embed knowledge and understanding.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage Four students continue to be expected to rehearse in their own time in order to prepare for performances. Students are set on-going homework in the form of a portfolio documenting their personal learning journey.