Perhaps the original art form, pre-dating even language itself, storytelling is a fundamental feature of what it means to be human. In a world in which interaction with others takes place not only on a personal, but on a global stage, communicating effectively has greater value than ever before.
Effective communication with others in a variety of settings is therefore at the centre of the Drama curriculum from Year 7, right up to Year 13. Drama, with its unique, practical approach to exploring themes, concepts and texts, develops a range of skills and knowledge including communication skills, empathy and social understanding, awareness of historical, social and political contexts, self-confidence, self-control, self-discipline, and self-motivation – all of which are invaluable as specific and transferable skills.
Subject Benefits and Aims
Drama is an excellent, broad-based subject that enables students to build a plethora of skills which they can use in future drama-related courses or employment, or which they can transfer and apply to any chosen subject of study or career. As a subject, Drama nurtures a wide range of preferred learning styles across the year groups.
- To develop confidence with communicative and collaborative skills.
- To develop skills of empathy and observation of the human experience.
- To develop an understanding of a range of historical, political, social and cultural contexts through dramatic and theoretical exploration.
- To develop skills of verbal and written analysis, evaluation and reflection.
The Drama Department offers students a comprehensive range of extra-curricular activities, which embellish and support curriculum learning, and are hugely important in the wider cultural life of the College community. Extra-curricular activities include whole College productions every second year, Limelight (drama company for Years 7-9), Spotlight (drama company for Years 10–13), and also Musical Theatre training and performance opportunities via the Musical Theatre Group (MTG) and its subsidiaries. In addition, we partner with an expert Drama coach to provide additional LAMDA qualifications which can be a distinguishing factor for students developing a career in the dramatic arts.
Students will benefit from the expertise of two highly experienced full time Drama teachers, and additionally from another experienced Drama teacher who also teaches with the English Department.
Mr S Ellis – Head of Drama
Miss R McGarry – Teacher of Drama and SiC of BTEC Performing Arts.
Miss K Thorne – Teacher of Drama and English
We are a very well-equipped and resourced Department, with the following facilities at our disposal:
- Drama Studio (C308), with a full LED lighting rig, sound equipment and projector, enabling the staging of theatre in a variety of intimate formats.
- Performance Hall, with an extensive lighting rig and sound system, large projector, deep proscenium arch stage, and retractable tiered seating.
- 2 Dance Studios, with sound systems and projectors, used as classrooms and additional rehearsal spaces.
- Theory Classroom (C309), with projector, whiteboard and speakers, used for those lessons which require a more traditional classroom setup.
- ICT Suite, equipped with 11 computers to enable students to conduct research or develop written work within lessons, and additionally for further study outside of lesson time.
- A substantial catalogue of set, props, instruments and costume.
Whilst the Drama Department aims to be a broad-minded subject to develop students into generally more capable and personable individuals, we also have an outstanding track record in students progressing to Drama Schools and into the highly competitive profession of acting. This is achieved through our carefully crafted curriculum operating in concert with our extra-curricular programme.
Year 7 and 8
The exciting 2-year programme of learning in Years 7 and 8 has been designed with every student in mind, not only for those students who are specifically drama or arts oriented. Whilst these students will be challenged by the course content, by their experienced and passionate Drama Teachers, and by our extensive extra-curricular provision, we have also considered the point of view of the student who may not necessarily think of themselves as a student of Drama. This is because we know the value of the many skills that Drama offers to students who will go on to further study in any subject, and to those who go into apprenticeship or employment in any area that involves interaction with people.
Drama is taught to all students in Years 7 and 8, in mixed gender classes arranged according to prior attainment scores, via two one-hour lessons per fortnight. There is a new Scheme of Learning each half-term, structured in such a way as to scaffold students’ learning progressively throughout the wider 2-year programme. There are on average 6 lessons per half term. Through this series of discrete but graduated Schemes of Learning, the lessons build students' competencies and knowledge of Drama within a holistic framework. There is also a carefully constructed Booklet to accompany the learning in each year, in which written evaluation and Home Learning (one per half term) is completed.
Year 7 Course Content
- Drama Fundamentals - an exploration of a variety of techniques used as the basic building blocks of Drama. Students will learn how to communicate, collaborate and experiment with new Drama skills.
- Anti-Bullying – linking to National Anti-bullying week, students explore this sensitive subject through Drama.
- Romeo and Juliet – an exploration of some of the themes and issues of Romeo and Juliet, making cross curricular links to English.
- Darkwood Manor – there is a huge house on top of a tall hill in the village of Darkwood. There are lots of rumours surrounding the house and for years no one has been brave enough to step inside. Students experiment with creating tension and atmosphere through physical theatre.
- Perseus and Medusa – a discovery of this Ancient Greek story, exploring the idea of performing as a Chorus, and using imagination to take an audience into a mythical landscape.
- The Mysterious Case of Anna Evans – students explore the peculiar and strange behaviour of a girl called Anna. They learn how to combine investigative skills to solve the mystery through role-play.
Year 8 Course Content
- Commedia dell’Arte – students gain new skills and knowledge in the Italian art form of Commedia. They learn how to create comedic performances through applying and develop skills in Mime, Physical Theatre and Gesture.
- GIZMO – based around the science fiction play by Alan Aykbourn which explores the ethics behind scientific advancements, encouraging students to raise questions of ethics in the real world.
- Twelfth Night – exploring Shakespeare’s comedy as a means of developing understanding of relationships and self-identity.
- Silent Movies – building on the Commedia dell’Arte Scheme of Learning, an introduction to the slapstick comedy of Silent Movies, with an emphasis on physical expression and mime.
- Storytelling – a practical exploration of the art and theory of storytelling, charting its pre-historic origins through to the classical world, and its development into contemporary narrative structure.
- Our World – a Scheme of Learning which will change with the times each year, focusing on social or political issues of the moment, such as the Climate Crisis or Mental Health, encouraging students to raise their gaze to issues that are relevant to their generation.
GCSE Drama - Aims of the Course
We follow the Eduqas specification for GCSE Drama, studying at this level from year 9 through to year 11. Year 9 is very much an opportunity for students to begin their more in-depth understanding of Drama as a subject, to understand the requirements and demands of the course, and to develop their skillset up to GCSE standards. The following is a course overview detailing how the 3 year programme is currently structured.
A Level Drama and Theatre - Aims of the Course
The standards expected and achieved at this level are very high, with a significant expectation that students choosing the course will be as passionate about the subject as the staff are, self-motivated, collaboratively minded, and willing to try new and intellectually challenging things. We are very proud to have a consistently high proportion of our students progressing beyond the course to the best Drama Schools in the UK and internationally, to study the subject at universities, and ultimately to gain professional employment in the dramatic arts industry. This is due to the expert subject knowledge and experience of the teachers, the integration of the course with our extra-curricular provision, and through our frequent professional workshops and theatre visits that are laid on by the Department.
As with GCSE, we use the Eduqas specification for A Level Drama and Theatre which provides excellent continuity of course style. The following Course Overview gives an idea of how the course is structured and delivered over the 2 years:
How you can support your child in Drama
- We no longer require students to wear plimsolls in Drama.
- For students who choose to wear a skirt as part of the College uniform, we require some form of shorts to be worn to protect their modesty. These can be the College PE shorts, black/navy blue cycling shorts, or thick black/navy blue leggings.
- Encourage them to discuss and evaluate films, TV shows and other dramatic presentations they may watch on television, or at the cinema or theatre.
- Many issues and themes, often cross-curricular, and linked to CPSHE topics, are covered in Drama. Encourage them to discuss these with you.
- For GCSE and A Level students especially, take them to a broad range of theatrical productions, preferably in a range of venues.
- For GCSE and A Level students, purchase specific texts that are being studied as part of the course.