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Drama: Secondary

Key Issues

Drama's position in the school

Trainees are likely to encounter a diverse range of arrangements for drama within schools. In the absence of national orders and a statutory subject framework, schools are free to design their own local variations of a drama curriculum based on the specific value given to drama in a particular school.

Trainees may for instance recognise these three local variations and could discuss the variations they encounter on placement and the different value and status given to drama in the schools they know:

Drama as Personal and Social Education
In this school many of the students have low self-esteem and lack effective social skills for productive and constructive interpersonal relationships. Drama is not offered as an examination subject because the levels of truancy make it near impossible to complete the required practical coursework. In this school, drama is valued for the contribution it makes to the personal, social and moral education of the students as well as for being an immediate and practical forum for creativity. Drama is seen as being essential to the school’s efforts to raise the expectations of both the students and the community and to develop the interpretative and interpersonal skills needed for the management of a happy and successful life. Understandably, the drama curriculum closely reflects the value and expectation that is placed on it by the school and its community. Its aims and objectives foreground the development and assessment of skills and objectives associated with the Personal, Social and Moral Education (PSME) curriculum.

Drama as English
In the second school, drama at KS3 (11-14) is taught as part of English but it has its own curriculum documentation and status. There are two strands that are emphasised – the personal and social rewards to be gained from the literary study, performance and watching of plays and the contribution that drama can make to the development of literacy. The aims and the objectives for the drama curriculum closely reflect the references to drama in the Statutory Orders for English and the assessment is either related to the national SAT’s for Shakespeare and Speaking and Listening or to written work in response to drama.

Drama as Subject
The final school in the sample shares many of the social characteristics of the first but it is further into the process of regeneration. In a climate of league tables, performance indicators and local competition for resources the school is keen to boost the numbers of students achieving A–C grades in GCSE exams. In recent years drama students have done very well in their exams, and the school supports an increase in the number of students choosing drama as an exam option. Drama is taught by specialist teachers and the curriculum at KS3 is seen as a preparation for the GCSE course. There is a strong emphasis on: the development and assessment of individual dramatic skills; the history of theatre, particularly Greek and Elizabethan; the production and presentation of plays by students. The aims and objectives for the KS3 curriculum are borrowed from the GCSE syllabus.

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