WHY ARE WE TEACHING A KNOWLEDGE-RICH CURRICULUM; HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
Our Drama curriculum is designed so that pupils can gain a love and appreciation for the Arts as a subject. The curriculum focuses on theatre history as well giving students the opportunity to access new works, modern concepts and theatre of the past. Our curriculum emphasises the importance of the development of practical skill, building confidence and technical knowledge as well as taking a theoretical approach to theatre analysis. A key aim of this curriculum is to help pupils build confidence, communication skills and social skills which is prevalent more now than ever as a result of the pandemic. Students are given the opportunity to experiment, devise and create in a safe environment where they are encouraged to share ideas, critically evaluate, improve and polish work. As part of our curriculum students learn about a variety of genres and practitioners and their particular work. Students use this knowledge and apply their learning in a fun and creative way through practical and written application within lessons. For example, pupils will be able to understand that dramatic movements have paved the way for new and modern theatre in the way ideas have been shaped and accepted by audiences. This knowledge of the past will enable pupils to engage in contemporary theatre with a deeper understanding of their dramatic context.
WHY ARE WE TEACHING THIS CONTENT?
Drama is such an important subject in the modern world as it gives students the ability to work in a creative and academic manner. When establishing our key stage three curriculum there were many considerations such as what did we feel was important to teach and what could we bare to leave out! Firstly, we wanted students to have a broad and balanced curriculum in Drama with practical opportunities particularly for those in year 7 whose experience of Drama may be very limited. We want that knowledge to be built upon and progressive as they travel through the key stage, enabling them to be prepared to enter into the world of GCSE Drama, should they opt for it. The content we chose to include is varied and looks at a variety of very different genres so will have appeal to all and will build on their appreciation to be able to work as individuals and with others. Secondly, content that will help pupils develop cultural literacy so they can understand common reference points in our popular culture as dramatic movement is often in accordance with the world at the time. To explain this second consideration further, we teach our curriculum because the events/practitioners/genres covered have cultural significance, which will enable pupils to engage in the wider world. These topics include Greek theatre where we look at original performance conditions and modern adaptations of these works and ideas, Theatre in education, Commedia Dell Arte, Brecht, Artaud and Verbatim theatre. Together these two considerations will help pupils gain awareness of theatre history, its impact and how modern Drama today has been shaped as a result of these changes. Practical exploration of ideas and written consolidation will help students embed their knowledge and also prepare them for further and more advanced study. Our final topic in year 9 is where students analyse examples of live theatre; here they are exposed to many examples of theatre and they use their knowledge to comment on these from a directorial and audience perspective. One of the texts chosen is Antigone (where we look at the National Theatre’s mainly naturalistic production in comparison to Splendid Productions highly Brechtian version) students explore the different approaches and will also recognise the text as it is taught in year 7 mainly through practical exploration as part of our learning about Greek theatre.
WHY ARE WE TEACHING IT IN THIS ORDER?
Our curriculum is progressive and challenging, for example in year 7 we intend for students to have a good overview of the subject and its demands practically and theoretically. Students will learn about genre / practitioner, historical time periods and apply this to their own devised work as well as accessing scripted text. In year 8 the nature of the work becomes more challenging as we embark on new genres, technical focus and more complex ideas such as political theatre. Students are still able to work independently and as part of a group both through practical exploration and theory on all topics. Year 9 raises the bar further as students are prepared for the world of GCSE with work taking more of a specific focus on devising, theatre creation, analysis and scripted performances which is in line with GCSE demands. At this point students have acquired a breadth of knowledge and are able to start the process of applying the ideas and concepts they have been taught in their own original performances.
WHAT DO PUPILS NEED TO REMEMBER AND BE ABLE TO DO IN THIS SUBJECT?
Pupils need to be able to work well with others as good listeners and team players. Drama is a subject where collaborative work is of high importance, and they must be good communicators. Students must appreciate a variety of styles and be willing to have a go! As pupils progress through the curriculum, they will be able to analyse and evaluate theatre which will then influence their own work and ideas. Fundamentally we want pupils to remember and understand the different theatrical concepts / techniques and ideas and how these have shaped the modern theatrical experience.
WHAT METHODS DO WE USE TO HELP PUPILS SECURE THIS KNOWLEDGE IN LONG-TERM MEMORY?
Students are given topic specific knowledge organisers which they use as part of their lessons and for revision. These are also added to our google classroom so that students can access them electronically as well. At the start of every lesson, students are quizzed with a mixture of more recent questions but always including questions from previous topics and previous years. We regularly reference past teaching to give students a chronological guide as well as revising previous knowledge.
WHAT METHODS DO WE USE TO HELP PUPILS SECURE THIS KNOWLEDGE IN LONG-TERM MEMORY AND APPLY IT IN COMPLEX TASKS?
We draw comparisons and connections between current and previous units so that pupils can find dramatic themes that run throughout. These connections enable them to produce extended writing which analyses a range of dramatic concepts.
To view the Drama Curriculum Overview click here.
More information on the Drama Department can be found on their website here.