|Head of department||Mr B Redfearn|
Drama is broken down into four areas of study that run alongside and complementing one another, to provide a full and rounded experience of Drama and Theatre as an art form. The first area of study centres around ‘Creating’, where students develop their understanding of the process of transforming ideas into practical material that is designed to create specific intended meaning for their audience. The second area of study focuses on ‘Performing’. Performing is again skills-based and students build their practical understanding of the possibilities of theatrical communication of their voice, bodies, interaction with others and also the application of skills in other theatrical arts, such as lighting, sound, set and costume. The third area of study is ‘Knowing and Understanding’. Here students are equipped with knowledge of the variety of the artform. Students learn the history of theatre and how it has changed throughout time in response to the context in which it is conceived and presented. Students learn about genre and style, becoming increasingly aware of important theatrical practitioners who moved theatre on in some way or had particular ways of working for particular reasons. Finally, in ‘Analysing and Evaluating’, students apply their knowledge and understanding to unpick drama and make critical judgements about theatrical work that they have been a part of or that they have seen from others, either peers or professionals.
Significant emphasis is put on the written, theoretical dimension of the subject at Key Stage 4, though this theory is rooted in practical understanding, therefore the theory and writing skills are built gradually through Key Stage 3 with an increasingly larger proportion of lesson time used for practical work.
Our curriculum is designed to spiral, giving students the opportunity to work with devised approaches, text-based approaches and in development of critical appreciation of text and performance proportionately in every academic year that they remain a drama student.
Key Stage 3 Overview
Year 7 topics
Term 1: Initial Drama Skills – foundational skills and knowledge that will enable students to access the curriculum, such as collaboration, use of voice and movement and an awareness of space.
Term 2: Initial Skills Applied: Darkwood Manor – students utilise their foundational skills to explore a scenario that is jam-packed with opportunities for tension and dramatic effect.
Term 3: Physical Theatre – development of physical theatre skills with reference to techniques by Frantic Assembly theatre company.
Term 4: Ancient Greek Theatre and Mythology – introduction to the historical starting point of Western theatre, extending skills and interpreting texts using appropriate form.
Term 5 & Term 6: Devising project – extended project in which students create, perform and reflect on the process. This is an early exposure to GCSE style requirements with the stimulus of ‘Fairy Tales’.
Year 8 topics
Term 1 & 2: Devising Unit: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – this unit develops research skills in relation to response to stimuli and depth of content. The devising builds on this.
Term 3: Theatrical Tension – a scheme of learning designed to specifically explore how tension is created and controlled in drama.
Term 4: Tension: Hamlet and Mugged – students apply their understanding of tension to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and then to Mugged, by Andrew Payne.
Term 5: Stage Combat – this scheme of learning teaches students about safe working practices and how to communicate the idea of physicality and violence without any actually being present – collaboration and control.
Term 6: World Theatre – this scheme is an opportunity to broaden horizons and sample a range of theatrical practices.
Year 9 topics
Term 1: DNA by Dennis Kelly – practical exploration of the text and the development of written responses to text (in line with GCSE set text study)
Term 2: Performance Project – responding to the text of DNA – themes: bullying, gang membership, social responsibility, morality and leadership.
Term 3: Practitioner Study: Brecht and Epic Theatre – exploration of the working methods of one of the most influential practitioners in theatre.
Term 4: Splendid’s The Trial – applying Brechtian and Epic theatre knowledge and skills to a modern Brechtian style text.
Term 5 & 6: Devising Project – Final Key Stage 3 project designed to offer the fullest opportunity to consolidate and demonstrate drama knowledge and skill within the full project process.
Key Stage 3 Homework
Homework is set every lesson to support lesson activity. This may take the form of research into dramatic styles and forms, research around a stimulus or theme or research around a character or text. Alternatively, students may be required to find items to bring into the lesson for use as props or introducing music to a piece of work. Preparing for scripted performance, students may be asked to learn lines as homework. Increasingly, throughout Key Stage 3, homework is used to give students time to write reflectively and critically about their drama work.
Key Stage 4 Overview
This course is broken into three components: Component 1 Understanding Drama is a theory-based component that requires students acquire knowledge and understanding applied to the exploration of a set text and to analysing and evaluating a piece of live theatre. The set text we have selected to study is Noughts and Crosses, an adaptation of the novel by Malorie Blackman, by Dominic Cooke. We have selected this text partly for the accessibility it presents, having teenage love and betrayal at the centre of the plot, but also for the provocation of the themes and the modern, versatile form and style of the play. The course offers a great deal of time exploring the set text through practical work coupled with written responses. In addition, students are assessed on a devised piece, and we conduct a Theatre in Education mock prior to this. Finally, students are assessed on the performance of a text. Again, we conduct a mock for this and the range of texts studied are intentionally contrasting to the set text and the live theatre production we attend, furthering breadth of experience.
Year 10 topics
Term 1: Set Text – Workshop and Written Exam responses
Term 2: Set Text – Workshop and Written Exam responses
Term 3: Devising Workshops and mock – Theatre in Education
Term 4: Component 2 – Devising Exam Preparation and Assessment
Term 5: Component 1 – Section C Live Theatre visit and written response development
Term 6: Component 1 full paper preparation – End-of-Year 10 Exam
Year 11 topics
Term 1: Component 3 - Text Performance Preparation
Term 2: Component 3 – Text Performance Examination
Term 3: Component 1 – Section C Live Theatre trip to see examination performance
Term 4: Component 1 – Section B, Set Text
Term 5: Component 1 Revision
Term 6: Exams
How is this qualification assessed?
AQA GCSE Drama
Component 1, Understanding Drama:
Written exam (1 hour and 45 minutes), 80 marks (40% of GCSE)
- Section A: multiple choice (4 marks)
- Section B: four questions on set text (44 marks)
- Section C: one question (from choice of three) on live theatre performance seen (32 marks)
Component 2, Devising Drama:
Devising Log Book (60 marks) and devised performance (20 marks), 80 marks (40% of GCSE)
Section 1: Response to Stimulus (20 marks)
Section 2: Development and Collaboration (20 marks)
Section 3: Analysis and Evaluation (20 marks)
Component 3, Texts in Practice:
Performance of two extracts from one play, 40 marks (20% of GCSE).
Key Stage 4 Homework
Homework is necessarily focused far more on written reflection and the development of skills in the articulation of analytical and evaluative comments, using dramatic vocabulary. Also, homework is set to ensure that students gain the necessary familiarity with the set text studied, through reading, researching, annotating and responding to the text. Writing scripts for devised work and learning lines for scripted work is, again, essential if students are to make the most of their practical rehearsal times in lessons. Therefore, homework is set weekly, and student are expected to be working for at least an hour a week.
How is this subject assessed?
Assessments take place termly. There is a rotation of focus, meaning students are assessed against practical performance exam criteria, written coursework criteria and exam question criteria on a regular basis. Knowledge-based quizzes are used to ensure that students’ knowledge is building incrementally. Peer and self-assessment is used on a regular basis to ensure that students take ownership over learning, help to hold one another to account (as is essential in all aspects of practical drama work) and receive feedback far more frequently than would be possible by teacher feedback alone. Verbal feedback from teachers occurs in most lessons, and students record this feedback. More formal written feedback of students occurs after formal assessments, and books are checked every two weeks.
How does this subject fulfil SMSC needs?
The experience of watching or creating drama or theatre is an inherently embedded in a human context. One of the key routes to gain insight into how drama and theatre works is by considering it as a mode of communication, delivering meaning that is inherently packaged up with cultural, social, political, historical, moral and spiritual assumptions, value, presuppositions and comments. Our job, as teachers of drama, is to draw attention to these contexts, both at the end of the maker (playwright, director, designer) and the end of the audience, receiving the dramatic message in their own context. It is absolutely essential, therefore, for each scheme of learning to deal with rich sources of inspiration through which drama is created, and then a light must be shone on the contexts that accompany these sources. Often, the richest avenue for discussion lies in students’ personal reflection on their own values or the values of those around them, and drama should always move towards revealing these contexts to us.
How does the subject challenge more able pupils?
Through the spiralling and skills-based nature of the drama curriculum, students are being exposed to sophisticated skills early on, and then, over time, develop the confidence and understanding that realises the depth, breadth and efficacy of the application of those skills. This process enables students to develop at different rates. Stretch and challenge activities are available in every lesson and students are actively encouraged to complete tasks to the best of their ability and then take on these additional tasks. Groupings of students takes account of ability, with mixed groupings early on allowing able students the opportunity to show leadership and less able students to make use of the energy and positivity of being part of a more successful creative process. As Key Stage 4 moves on, groupings shift more towards finding dynamics that offer the most opportunity for success by all, which may end up being of mixed-ability or may be more streamed in order to support and extend.
What provision is made for pupils with SEND?
Firstly, the core learning and tasks in lessons are designed with SEND students considered, using step-by-step guidance, visual reinforcement, scaffolding instructions and writing frames and additional guidance where needed. Additionally, SEND students are actively identified by teachers and specific consideration of needs is put into place, with full flexibility on practical requirements such as seating and positioning in the space, through to additional support in homework tasks, coaching around group skills and engagement, reinforcement of guidance and additional materials such as glossaries. Extra-time is allowed for students in assessments, where it is likely they would receive it in in their end of GCSE exams.
Enrichment and extra-curricular opportunities
The final dimension of the Drama subject area is our extended curriculum provision. Through performance projects, LAMDA qualifications, live performance trips, workshops, the Junior Drama Festival and the annual school show, we aim to ensure every student has opportunities to experience theatre and, in doing so, accumulate essential cultural capital and an appreciation of the insight and joy that theatre and performance brings to life. Students can gain LAMDA exam qualifications through an ongoing club provided by an external teacher. There are annual school show opportunities, with roles as cast members but also technical roles.
BBC GCSE Drama Bitesize (AQA Specification): https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/examspecs/zrnjwty
The National Theatre: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/
The Royal Court Theatre: https://royalcourttheatre.com/
The Old Vic Theatre: https://www.oldvictheatre.com/
Shakespeare’s Globe: https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/
London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA): https://ww2.lamda.ac.uk/
National Youth Theatre: https://www.nyt.org.uk/