‘We must all do theatre, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.’ Augusto Boal
Drama is a subject concerned with the development of transferable skills that are relevant to all, in terms of personal and social awareness and future employability. Like the other arts, drama utilises imagination and feelings and helps us to make sense of the world. Drama is a creative and cultural activity.
Students enjoy their lessons and are excited and enthusiastic about their work. They are given opportunities to devise their own performances, using drama techniques to explore themes, issues and ideas. They are also given opportunities to interpret the work of other playwrights. Practically, they develop their physical and vocal skills, exploring how characters can be developed and how meaning is communicated to an audience. They respond to a variety of stimuli, exploring a range of social, cultural and historic contexts.
Our curriculum takes into account a variety of experiences from KS2, building upon existing skills and ensuring our curriculum delivery provides extension and challenge for all students. Year 7 students use their Drama skills to explore British Values and they also explore the role of the audience within different types of theatre performances. In addition, they learn how to evaluate and discuss their own work and the drama produced by others including access to professional performances. Students are introduced to the wider world of theatre and the range of employment opportunities for designers and arts administrators. Their work in KS3 prepares them for further study at GCSE and A Level. Former students have chosen to study Drama and Performing Arts at universities and colleges.
We are committed to supporting the KS3 English National Curriculum, focusing particularly on Spoken Language. Our lessons encourage students to speak confidently and effectively, through classroom discussion; improvising, rehearsing and performing play scripts and evaluating the language used; using role, intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action to add dramatic impact.
Whilst our curriculum is designed to support students in the development of their skills in creating, performing and responding, it is fundamentally about the growth of the individual. Our drama curriculum allows students to develop a number of essential skills for life and we believe that drama can enable our students to grow into more rounded, confident and self-aware young adults.
‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world’ Albert Einstein
For the majority of students, Year 7 Drama is their first experience of a formal Drama education. They arrive with varied experiences, ranging from participation in class assemblies, occasional visiting theatre practitioners and summer shows, to performing regularly outside of school, showing confidence as performers.
At Weatherhead High School, Drama teachers work hard to engage practically with our students, watching them grow in confidence as they develop a range of skills. Drama is taught throughout KS3 by specialist teachers in specialist Drama rooms, both with theatre lighting facilities. From Year 7, they are introduced to the 5 core ‘C’ words of Drama, essential for successful practical work – co-operation, concentration, commitment, control and confidence. Drama games are an ideal way of ensuring all students are engaged and encourage a positive attitude to the subject. The first two units in Year 7 introduce students to the skills they will use throughout their school career and beyond, including mime, still image, thought-track, flashback, narration and improvisation. Students are then introduced to specific drama skills and techniques, theatre history and the work of individual playwrights.
Our approach to the subject is primarily through practical work, however, it is sometimes appropriate to take time to encourage design work, formal planning and script-writing. Research is encouraged throughout all key stages and the department makes good use of the technology available within the department, such as laptops and IPADs.
At the end of each unit of work, students are encouraged to reflect upon their progress and the skills they have developed. It may also be relevant to share a final presentation of their work. Verbal peer and self-assessment is a regular feature of lessons. Students are always encouraged to consider how they could improve upon their practical work.
At KS4 and 5, students are encouraged to use Google Classroom to complete formal assignments and to store recordings of their practical work. GCSE and A level students also have folders of work, to support their organisation and revision.
Extra-curricular activities are an essential part of the Drama department, allowing all students, if they wish to, to develop their confidence and skills further. We offer Y7 Drama Club, Year 8 Drama Club, Weatherhead Theatre Company (Y8-13), Technical Crew and the whole-school production (every 2 years). In addition, we offer an annual G & T Theatre trip for Year 8, as well as theatre trips for GCSE and A Level students. Our Performing Art Council offers Leadership opportunities for our Art Ambassadors and Year12/13 students are encouraged to support the running of Clubs and to volunteer in KS3 lessons. Visiting practitioners enrich the experiences of our students, including actors, directors and playwrights.
At all key stages, students are aware that Drama belongs to the Performing Arts curriculum area. We are always looking for opportunities for cross-curricular activities and to remind students of the similarities and differences between Drama, Dance and Music.
Drama is measured using the following methods:
- Improvement in confidence as the year progresses
- Level of participation and enjoyment in lessons
- How well they demonstrate the Drama ‘C’s, which allows lessons to be successful
- Video evidence of the student’s practical learning shows progress over time
- Quality of practical performances with students using techniques confidently
- Student evaluations/peer assessment/oral feedback – students are confident and comfortable offering assessments of their own work and that of others
- Uptake of extra-curricular activities – Y7 Drama Club, Year 8 Drama Club, Weatherhead Theatre Company (Y8-13), Technical Crew, Christmas Concert, Summer Sizzler, Weatherhead’s Got Talent, Theatre Trips – registers are kept to monitor the amount of students who participate in our activities
- A willingness to be involved in our Performing Arts Council – our Ambassadors are encouraged to support our subjects and communication is through Google Classroom
- Numbers of students involved in Whole-school productions – our Performing Arts Awards celebrate commitment to a number of shows during their Weatherhead career, celebrated at assemblies
- Behaviour of students during lessons (listening and being respectful)
- Student Voice – formal and informal
- Annual reporting to parents
- Pass rate at GCSE Drama – 2022: SPI – 0.61 Av Point Score – 5.78 Residual 0.28 87% 9-4 (National 80.8%); 74% 9-5 (National 69.4%); 39% 9-7 (National 34%). We achieved very well in comparison to other centres in these first externally assessed exams since 2019 and our results compared well to previous CAG’s
- Pass rate at A Level Drama: 2022 ALPS 7; 2021 ALPS 2; 2020 ALPS 3; 2019 ALPS 6
Covid affected confidence, attitude and opportunities for additional rehearsals, opportunities to see live theatre and uptake. Now that things are improving, we hope to make further progress
- Final destinations for Y13 students – display boards remind students of the range of opportunities after A levels
- Manchester Metropolitan University – Events Management
- Professional Musical Theatre performer
- Northern School of Art – Film, TV and Theatre Production
- Liverpool Hope – English Lit, Media and Communication
- Edge Hill – Musical Theatre
- Salford – Theatre and Performance Practice
- Cleveland College – Costume Interpretation with Design
Drama has an impact across the whole school, for example, when some students are involved in productions/performances, their attendance improves during the rehearsal period, their behaviour often improves in lessons and they feel more confident about working as a group in other lessons.
The Drama department has two specialist rooms, A101 and A203, both with lighting and sound facilities.
In addition, the department uses the Theatre, which is well-equipped with sound and lighting facilities, as well as a projector. The raked seating can be removed, to provide a more flexible space for rehearsals and examination performances. School productions and examination performances often use the stage area (Dance Studio), which includes a white cyclorama.
The department has access to laptops and iPads, allowing students greater research opportunities, as well as providing more opportunities to become involved with technical theatre. Practical work is filmed on digital camcorders and worked stored on portable hard-drives and Google Classroom.
Within lessons, and at lunch-times and after-school, support is available for all GCSE, and A level students – this can include small group or individual support, developing both written and practical work.
A level students experience workshops led by practitioners, to improve their examination performances.
GCSE and A level students are encouraged to take part in regular theatre visits, as this is a compulsory requirement for their examinations, as well as providing further opportunities to learn about the theatrical process.
Year 7 Drama Club, Year 8 Drama Club, Weatherhead Theatre Company (Year 8-13), Technical Crew and the whole-school production (every 2 years).
Annual G&T Theatre trip for Year 8, as well as theatre trips for GCSE and A Level students.
Our Performing Art Council offers Leadership opportunities for our Art Ambassadors and Year 12/13 students are encouraged to support the running of Clubs and to volunteer in KS3 lessons.
Visit weatherheadhigh.co.uk/extra-curricular-clubs for our current programme of extra-curricular activities.
KS3 DRAMA at Weatherhead High School is about developing the 5 ‘C’s of Drama:
Curriculum Co-ordinator for Performing Arts i/c Drama
Teacher of Drama