The Drama Department at The Math has two core principles:
the engagement and development of creativity through practical activities which foster teamwork, tolerance and empathy
the acquisition of knowledge and critical awareness of theatre as a cultural medium with distinct genres and eras
Drama is a thought provoking, challenging and creative subject at The Math. Delivery of this subject offers pupils opportunities to develop crucial transferable skills such as communication and cooperation as well as the chance to explore fundamentally what it means to be human.
Pupils are encouraged to make connections between and trace developments of theatrical practices between historical eras and to recognise their influences in contemporary performance.
Overall, the department aims to provide pupils with a broad range of topics through which to develop curiosity, empathy, communication and analytical skills. In teaching a breadth of genres, historical eras and topics, and using a wide variety of activities throughout the curriculum, the department aims to teach Drama as an academic subject which progressively builds pupils’ knowledge and understanding; through its practical delivery the parallel aim is to engage pupils with complex and significant topics while simultaneously developing in them creativity, self-confidence and self-knowledge to support their intellectual and social development.
The department aims to teach Drama progressively through and across the three key stages, building upon previous learning. The department adopts the Arts Council recommendation that the three interrelated activities of creating, performing and responding provide a useful framework for identifying and assessing progression and achievement, which match similar categories in other arts subjects such as music: composing, performing and appraising. For the purposes of planning and assessment, creating, performing and responding are treated as separate strands, although they are frequently integrated in practice. Pupils improvising, for example, are simultaneously making, performing and responding. The emphasis placed on each can change across the key stages; KS4 for instance involves more frequent reflection on individual practice and increases the demand of written analysis and evaluation in the responding aspect. However, the aim is to include aspects of each activity in each scheme of work.
Creating encompasses the many processes and activities employed when exploring, devising, shaping and interpreting Drama.
Performing covers the skills and knowledge displayed when enacting, presenting and producing Dramas, including the use of theatre technology.
Responding incorporates reflecting on both emotional and intellectual reactions to the Drama. This reflection is deepened as pupils gain a knowledge and understanding of how Drama is created.
To ensure breadth of study during each key stage, pupils are taught the skills, knowledge and understanding required to create, perform and respond to Drama through:
a broad range of stimuli, including artefacts, literature, non-fiction and non-literary texts such as photographs and video clips
working in groups of varying size and as a class
performing to a range of audiences
a range of genres and styles
seeing a variety of live and recorded performances from different times and cultures
using ICT to explore and record ideas, research themes and enhance their production work
Drama is taught one lesson per fortnight. As such it is a challenge to create continuity and provide a secure foundation comparable with students nationally who may have double this curriculum time.Our aim is to securely embed the learning in KS3 and prepare students to compete with other Drama students nationally should they opt for KS4 Drama..
Where possible, cross-curricular links are incorporated e.g. in several of the KS3 terms, the Drama topic complements what students study in the KS3 English curriculum (Shakespeare x2, Melodrama, War, and Curious Incident.)
The curriculum in KS3 builds from a baseline assessment and an introduction to transferable skills at the start of year 7, taking pupils through yr 7, 8 and 9 in the exploration of five distinct theatrical eras or genres, four historical events, two different Shakespeare plays, and culminates in more GCSE style topics in year 9 such as a devising project and the introduction to major theatrical practitioners such as Stanislavski and Brecht.
This brings together the two core strands of playful creativity and the enrichment through acquired knowledge and understanding mentioned above -as we endeavour to create informed drama scholars who have developed their creative and interpersonal skills in the process of their drama education in KS3.
The aims are that year 9 pupils are equipped with the necessary knowledge, understanding and experience to approach the option process with confidence should they wish to select GCSE Drama as an option, and that all pupils have a breadth of knowledge and understanding of the process of creating performance and a critical and cultural appreciation of the performing arts. There are also links with study further up the school in the choice of texts and practitioners and this is kept constantly under review to ensure stretch and challenge is provided for all our high ability students as well as providing a breadth of cultural and artistic opportunities in drama lessons.
Eduqas GCSE Drama is taught 4 lessons per fortnight.
Looking at the exam board specifications and canvassing other subject specialists Eduqas was chosen as the preferred board; there is excellent support and training , the Eduqas staff teach the specification and are responsive to teacher enquiries.
The curriculum begins in term 6 of year 9. This is used as a foundation term to accelerate students into GCSE level work – focus is on acquiring subject specific vocabulary, assessing skill levels and introducing new Dramatic devices.
In year 10 the aim is to introduce each of the three components of the GCSE and establish for the pupils how they complement one another; introduce the set text through practical workshops and performances, experience working in combination with other students, develop analytical and evaluative skills and vocabulary, interpret text, learn theatrical theory and explore the devising process. At the end of this year pupils complete Component One: Devising Theatre.
In year 11 Students revisit the set text and focus on examination skills for the written paper, as well as completing Component Two: Performing from a Text for an external examiner. A second theatre visit re-consolidates pupil learning in relation to evaluating live theatre ready for Component Three: Interpreting Theatre. To address gaps in knowledge and practical skills in year 11, the department will be offering targeted intervention. and will use the two mock examination opportunities to build up to a complete mock in March. This will allow targeted revision to take place on the set text for the November mock examination, which will focus only on the set text ( DNA by Dennis Kelly) in section A: worth 45 out of the available 60 marks in the complete examination.
After a planned theatre visit to Curious Incident 9th December 2021, the students will be led in preparations for the final part of the written examination – Evaluation of Live Theatre seen during the course worth the final 15 marks out of 60. This will enable them to be prepared thoroughly and in a step by step way to address any gaps and maximise their revision time for a full mock in March of both Section A and B.
We are awaiting the results of a consultation on whether the component 2 examination will be undertaken by a visiting examiner, or assessed via a recording made by the centre of the performance work. This unit will take place between January and March 2022.
The component 2 examination will be assessed via a recording made by the centre of the performance work this year (2022) instead of byu a visiting examiner. This unit will take place between January and March 2022.
Many of the summer 2021 adaptations remain for the summer 2022 completion of components 1 and 2 in terms of group sizes and performance times.The extractor for the written paper used from our set text DNA has been shared with centres as part of Summer 2022 adaptations and this information has been shared with students.
Eduqas A Level Drama and Theatre is taught in 10 lessons per fortnight. This specification was chosen because the format is a natural follow on from the GCSE course and offers clear progression in the key components of 1: Theatre Workshop,2: Text in Action and 3: Text in Performance. The added rigour of 5 whole texts which are studied during the course and the addition of a second performance complementing the devised work for unit 2 will challenge the students and build on their existing skills. We are delighted to be offering this course from September 2021 with the first examination in 2023.
We have a cohort of 12. Two are external students who have studied Drama elsewhere at GCSE, and one student did not study KS4 drama but has a keen interest and ability in design.
This A Level course will prepare students for further study in arts subjects, in particular any theatrical disciplines of performing or designing as well as English, Classics and other analytical subjects.
The focus is on developing practical and theoretical knowledge of drama and theatre from the point of view of actors, directors and designers and all students need to be prepared to answer questions from these different perspectives in their final examination on three set texts.
Students will also study two additional texts from a practical perspective and complete two units of performance work, one of which is assessed as coursework by teachers at the centre and moderated by the board. One performance is examined by a visiting examiner.
Drama is taught by two specialist teachers, one of whom is a very experienced HOD and the other part time teacher also has a wealth of experience including teaching LAMDA and examining. Her focus is Key Stage 5.
Throughout the course, visits to live theatre and watching of recorded performances to analyse and evaluate, and consider influences on students’ own work.
The course is delivered by two teachers and topics are taught separately to capitalise on teacher experience and specialisms except when performances are imminent and rehearsals need to take place in all Drama lessons with the support from both teachers towards the performances.
To support progression in each key stage, pupils are able to:
explore and research ideas, issues, plays and other texts such as diary entries, poems, photographs, films and paintings, using a variety of Drama skills and techniques
devise, improvise, shape and structure Dramas of different kinds
use Drama skills and knowledge to interpret a range of texts, for example play-scripts, pictures or stories
prepare and perform both scripted and devised Dramas
use and develop their knowledge of Drama from different times and cultures, as well as classic and contemporary practice
reflect on, evaluate and analyse the structure, meaning and impact of their work and the work of others as both participant and audience
In addition to this, every opportunity is taken in discussion, reflection and evaluation activities to explore the connections between topics, and revisit previous learning in order to consolidate, retain and apply knowledge and understanding acquired so far in the Drama curriculum, as well as take note of cross-curricular links.
Students in KS3 are internally assessed in terms 1, 3 and 5 reflecting their progress across the three elements of creating, performing and responding. Feedback to students is passed on to them verbally in lessons throughout the key stage and recorded in written teacher notes. Pupils are given frequent feedback, and take and offer peer and self- assessment after performing their work. Work is modelled and analysed in lessons by teachers, and some lessons are delivered by teacher-in–role to demonstrate role play, characterisation and performance skills. The www and ebi system is used in verbal feedback and specific advice added to written reports.
The Drama curriculum has been designed to ensure it is accessible to all students, with useful links being established between topics, and references made during the teaching of topics to the relevance of the content to the lives of all of us.
The common elements of different styles of theatre is one technique we use to thread student knowledge together coherently- for instance when teaching Naturalism, the contrast with Melodrama is studied in retrieval activities at the start of the scheme; characters in plays studied in English and Drama, or which appear in modern film and TV are compared to the stock characters from Commedia and Melodrama.
Progression in skills development is also revisited, to allow those who are less confident physically or emotionally to develop their physical, vocal and critical skills. Skills. For example- some SEN students struggle with the freedom and challenge of working in a group on creative tasks in drama.
In order to integrate these students and increase their skills, options for working in a pair rather than a large group are planned into activities. Consideration of the groups and pairs for work in class is made, particularly for ASD students.
Many SEN learners are able to access the practical curriculum easily but need support when approaching analytical written tasks. Writing frames and other supporting materials are shared with students and made available on GC. Intervention sessions are targeted at supporting those with SEN.
When analysing live theatre, we use Edward De Bono’s 6 Thinking hats to enable learners to ‘chunk’ their response to a live performance, an experience which can be challenging to remember in detail once back in the classroom.
Many aspects of literacy are supported in Drama. Spoken communication, and the value of coherence, articulation and audibility are intrinsic to learning in the studio. Students are required to speak and collaborate, articulate spoken responses and consider the effectiveness of their verbal communication skills in feedback given to peers and by teachers in lessons. This supports the development of vocabulary and the composing of lucid argument and aids analytical thinking. Relevance to other disciplines is highlighted when developing analytical and evaluative feedback on work, and in response to written tasks at KS4 and KS5.
Scripts and stimulus materials in drama provide a wealth of different text for students to read, understand and respond to, from Roald Dahl books to poetry, and plays by Brecht, Shakespeare and many modern and contemporary playwrights. This exposes students to many styles of writing and develops their awareness of different styles and genres of literature, and challenges them to develop their understanding of vocabulary.
Subject specific vocabulary is revisited in retrieval practice to support long term memory and focus on specific terms for performance and theatre is repeated in topics throughout the KS3 course to generate familiarity as much as possible in the infrequent lessons. In KS4 and KS5 materials are provided as resources and varied activities are set to support the development of subject specific vocabulary. Revision materials include subject specific terminology for performance and also for the design elements such as lighting and sound. Writing frames are used in creating written coursework, mock tasks are completed and provide feedback opportunities on the skills and effectiveness of the students in fulfilling the expected task prior to the final component being attempted, and examples of effective analytical and evaluative writing are used as exemplar material.
The department has set up the ability for pupils to take LAMDA qualifications through private lessons in public speaking and acting, arranged with a visiting LAMDA teacher/examiner. Many pupils are consequently able to develop their skills and confidence during KS4 and KS5. This is a welcome opportunity given that A Level Drama is in the early stages. LAMDA qualifications at level 2 and 3 can earn pupils valuable UCAS points.
Last academic year PP students in sixth form were provided with LAMDA tuition and exam entry through PP funding and all achieved Distinctions in their LAMDA examinations and the maximum available UCAS points to add to their academic subject totals. This initiative from Mr Hodges is looking set to really expand this year, with 8 students signed up to take up this offer.
The department provides students with regular opportunities to take part in school productions (two per year usually, but suspended due to COVID restrictions- planning a production in July 2022 TBC restrictions allowing), both as performers and crew, as a way to further their vocational interest in performance or develop skills. Additional performances are arranged in regular showcases, e.g. Sixth Form Drama Academy (enrichment programme) and LAMDA Showcases. Collaboration with the Music Department is a feature of the delivery of these extra-curricular activities.
Theatre trips and workshops with visiting arts organisations or experts are organised to complement and enhance engagement with the Drama curriculum. These include stage combat, performance poetry, and vocal coaching workshops as well as participation in National Theatre Connections Festival. GCSE pupils take part in two theatre trips during their course. Visits and productions are chosen, where possible and appropriate, to complement learning in other areas e.g. Classics (School production of Antigone) or English Literature. (GCSE Theatre trips to productions of Macbeth and Frankenstein).
The impact of the curriculum can be seen through a number of measures:
Pupils are clearly engaged in lessons and enjoy their Drama lessons, as shown through their focused and committed approach to activities and evidenced in observations, learning walks and student feedback
Pupils have a wide base of knowledge by the end of Key Stage 3 which contributes to their understanding and appreciation of theatre and performance as a cultural and commercial enterprise.
Pupils have demonstrated empathy with and tolerance of others in their consideration of a variety of topics and in their ability to work in a team.
Internal assessment processes demonstrate that pupils effectively progress in knowledge and skill that they can later apply and develop.
Formative assessments of performance, particularly related to voice and interaction, show pupils’ ability to develop and apply skills.
Students are able to communicate clearly and effectively connections between different genres and eras of theatre they have been taught about.
SEN and disadvantaged students achieve outcomes in line with their peers.
Questioning and discussion are used to gauge and deepen pupil understanding – thinking skills are challenged and championed
Students develop a wide understanding of many aspects of fundamental British values along with a well-developed SMSC awareness and knowledge.
Consistent uptake of Drama at GCSE, with consistently successful outcomes as an indication that students are enjoying the subject, have confidence in its delivery and are opting to continue with their studies.
Success of pupils in applications to study performing arts subjects post 18 who have studied Drama at GCSE and participated in school productions shows them as well prepared as possible for the next step of their education.
The consistency in numbers and outcomes at GCSE has resulted in the addition of A Level Drama and Theatre from September 2021. This will offer students another pathway to studying the creative arts at SJWMS and ignite interest in careers and learning at under-graduate level in their next steps.
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