CURRICULUM AIMS AND VALUES
‘Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.’
The drama curriculum at Greenbank has been designed to be practical, engaging and creative. It provides opportunities to understand and create drama as a practical art form in which ideas and meaning are communicated to an audience through informed artistic choices. Students are encouraged to develop their individuality and to think and express themselves with flair and confidence. As a department, we aim to help pupils to discover and experience the world around them and begin to appreciate situations from more than one perspective, encouraging empathy and tolerance. The main purpose of our curriculum is to allow pupils to study the subject in an academic setting, interrogating this art form and applying their knowledge and understanding to the process of creating, developing and performing drama. It will prepare pupils for the study of A Level Drama and Theatre Studies or alternative Performing Arts courses such as the BTEC when leaving Greenbank, as well as developing those skills that are transferrable to other curriculum areas and to support the requirements of future employment.
At the heart of drama is the development of these skills in all young people; engagement, communication and oracy, creative imagination, clarity of expression, autonomy, leadership confidence and cooperation. There is more to drama than being able to perform on stage. Opportunities are embedded for students to be able to hone and develop performance talent but equally important is the ability to understand, analyse and evaluate the theatre we create. Methodologies of theatrical practitioners are introduced to enable students not only to ‘re-enact’ but to shape their own unique ideas with a greater understanding of the need for style, intention, theatrical form and to learn to celebrate individual and unique perspectives.
Our curriculum helps create independent learners, critical thinkers and effective decision makers – all personal attributes that can make them stand out as they progress through their education and into employment. Our schemes of learning provide a challenging curriculum to ignite and engage our pupils’ creativity, passion and interests. The non-written assessment allows pupils to explore their own interests and develop their skills in performance. It also provides freedom for pupils to experiment and take risks with their work while developing their own style. Our curriculum has been designed to ensure an inclusive approach, allowing all learners to achieve their potential. We have looked closely at creating assessments, including written outcomes, which stem from teaching and learning and the study of drama, ensuring that the focus is on what enables all learners to make the best possible progress in the subject.
CURRICULUM ORGANISATION AND DELIVERY
Pupils are taught in mixed ability teaching groups throughout Key Stage 3 and 4.
Groups are taught in 1hour lessons fortnightly in Years 7 and 8. Schemes of work are based around a theme, but individual lessons are discrete due to the nature of the number of lessons on the timetable and relatively long gaps in between. Due to the fact that most pupils have generally experienced very little drama at Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 lessons introduce basic devising and performance skills, with the emphasis being on developing confidence and encouraging pupils to foster a sense of enjoyment in the art form. Lessons are tightly structured to ensure as much is covered in a short space of time, and pupils are given the opportunity to perform for their peers in the majority of lessons.
Key knowledge is embedded through regularly revisiting skills.
At Key Stage 3, pupils are assessed on their devising and performance skills regularly. Where possible, pupils are provided with verbal feedback when they have performed. One formal assessment takes place at the end of each scheme of work and pupils are provided with assessment criteria so it is clear what their aims are and the potential outcomes.
An example of the assessment criteria for the Year 7 scheme of work on Mime Skills displayed to pupils using a Powerpoint presentation:
Key Stage 4 is taught from Year 9 twice weekly, and five times fortnightly in Year 11. Students are encouraged to meet outside lesson times when working in groups towards the devised performance work for Component 2 (moderated) and the scripted performance work for Component 3 (examined).
In Year 9, pupils revisit and study performance skills covered in Key Stage 3 in far more depth. They learn the content for Section A of Component 1. Following this, they cover schemes of work on the practitioners Stanislavski (Naturalism) and Artaud (Theatre of Cruelty) and apply their knowledge through practical exercises leading to performances. In the Summer term we start examining Act 1 of the set text for Section B of Component 1
In Year 10, pupils continue studying the set text for Section B of Component 1. One digital or live production for Section C of Component 1 is studied. Work on Component 2 which includes a devised performance and an accompanying 2500 written devising log takes place in the Spring and Summer terms.
In Year 11, the set text is revisited and completed in time for the Pre-Public Examinations in the first term. In the second term scripted pieces are performed to an examiner for Component 3.
At Key Stage 4 pupils are regularly given extended written tasks from Year 9 to prepare them for the demands of the written work in Year 10 and 11. They also regularly perform and are given verbal feedback afterwards
GCSE work is assessed using AQA specification criteria.
All pupils have equality of access to the curriculum. Staff consistently promote an ethos of high expectations for all pupils and high quality written and performance work and full commitment is assumed. We recognise that for some pupils the thought of performing in front of their peers can be daunting, especially in Key Stage 3, and we always support students in building their self-esteem and confidence. We do not expect all students to be highly accomplished actors but we do expect and will guide each and every student to make progress in their communication skills.
Any individual support needed is identified and implemented. Individual pupil’s progress is tracked and any barriers to further progress identified. For instance, staff carefully consider the suitability of performance texts, particularly at GCSE level.
More able pupils are regularly grouped together so that they are able to devise and perform practical work to the highest standard. Equally important, mixed ability work groups are often encouraged, whereby more able pupils are able to take on a leadership role if they so wish, benefiting their own skills as well as those who are less able or who need encouragement or support.
Disadvantaged pupils are encouraged to participate in all lessons and we ensure that much support and praise is given. Those who are disadvantaged do not have to pay to participate in theatre trips or to buy set texts to ensure equality and access for all.
Since places in the annual school production are via audition (this has to be the case, as so many pupils -often 100 – want to take part), more able pupils are given the opportunity to participate, whilst those who are disadvantaged are encouraged to audition and individual circumstances are always considered when auditions take place.
Students are encouraged to foster a love for the subject: for devising, performing, analysing and evaluating theatre. The curriculum is structured based on the expectations for GCSE Drama; key concepts and skills required by the end of Year 11 are fed down into schemes of work from Year 7 upwards. This is designed to raise expectations and standards from the start of Key Stage 3 and ensure that drama knowledge is being understood both practically and theoretically.
In Drama, literacy skills are developed through the use of appropriate terminology which is displayed in the lesson Powerpoints and regularly referred to and reiterated in order to ensure it is embedded. Improvisation and storytelling develop our pupils’ understanding of narrative structure with a consequent impact on speaking and writing skills. Additionally, by taking on a character and becoming immersed in their life and world through drama, students are encouraged to experience how it feels to be a certain person with a particular personality, and this empathy ultimately enables them to write in a more thoughtful and creative manner.
A key element of the GCSE course is devising performing work and pupils are encouraged to write their own scripts, or alternatively write detailed ideas, concepts and plans for their devised work, meaning that descriptive and creative writing skills are developed. The devising log for Component 2 develops pupils’ descriptive, analytical and evaluative writing skills.
Reading is a key aspect of the subject. Pupils are expected to read, understand and analyse playscripts in order to be able to perform them or indeed write about how they would perform them, effectively. They also are encouraged to undertake research for their devised practical work and are expected to read a variety of related articles, scenes, poems, stories or song lyrics.
Pupils are given opportunities to visit local amateur and professional theatre as well as being given the chance to watch touring theatre companies and take part in workshops. We ensure that disadvantaged pupils do not have to pay to participate in theatre trips or to buy set texts to ensure equality and access for all.
Those involved professionally in the field of performing arts such as directors and actors have visited the school to speak about their career through question and answer sessions and to provide workshops. Pupils have also watched performances from local colleges, either touring at the school or through trips to the college, providing an excellent opportunity for Greenbank students to see what is on offer to them following on from school and helping them to make informed decisions about whether they would like to pursue Drama or Performing Arts in the future. Exemplification of where studying Drama can take pupils is displayed and referenced to inspire pupils to further study, featuring ex-students to whom our pupils can aspire. Careers events such as a Creative Careers Day, where a panel from the BBC came in to tell pupils in all year groups about a wide range of employment opportunities in the arts and media sectors, have also been informative and inspirational.
Additionally, pupils are given excellent opportunities to visit local colleges during Year 10 and take part in taster sessions and workshops, again giving them understanding of the demands of specific courses. These engaging and inspiring experiences and the knowledge of the courses gained, encourages them to aspire further in their studies of the subject.
Extra-curricular opportunities in drama are created to enable students to develop and build on expertise learnt in lessons. Pupils will be offered the opportunity to perform at events such as Open Evening and enthusiastic pupils in Key Stage 4 are often keen to run Drama clubs for Year 7 and 8 students which allows them to take on a leadership role and develop their own knowledge by planning and delivering drama club sessions. Students are encouraged to audition to be part of theatre productions with challenging expectations and outstanding results with all pupils involved developing their confidence, performance skills and professionalism. Our pupils are given the opportunity to star in full–blown musical theatre productions and bespoke productions such as, One Hundred Years, which was a commemoration of the First World War, using both music of the era and original music, narration, dramatized works of poets such as Owen, Pope, McCrae and Brooke and scenes about key aspects of the war, including how the war started, the socialist Sylvia Pankhurst, life in the trenches and the short truce of Christmas 1914 and relationships shown through letter-writing. Students learned so much from this experience and connected to the past immeasurably. A sizeable donation was also made to the Royal British Legion, giving pupils a sense of pride in knowing they had done something for others that had genuinely made a positive impact. Most recently, forty pupils were cast in a musical adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This proved to be a challenging but hugely rewarding experience for all those involved, including the Stage Crew who were utilized from an early stage to help prepare props and costumes. This also provided a cross-curricular opportunity in that the Music department were able to put together a show band which accompanied the performances, giving fantastic practical experience to all those involved.
Many pupils comment on the life skills they have learned through participating in the productions and the fantastic relationships they have fostered across year groups. All opportunities for extra-curricular work not only encourage enjoyment in the arts but also enable students to learn about professional expectations and performance discipline.
- The personal development curriculum embraces the strands of Citizenship, Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE), Careers Education and Guidance (CEAG) and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) educational policies. In Drama, the personal development of pupils is supported by the encouragement of students to question and challenge their perception of the world and develop the soft skills sought by employers in all fields:
The School Day
Breakfast Club: 8:15 – 8:35
Personal Development Time: 8:40 – 9:00
Period 1: 9:00 – 10:00
Period 2: 10:00 – 11:00
Break: 11:00 – 11:25
Period 3: 11:25 – 12:25
Lunch: 12:25 – 1:10
Period 4: 1:10 – 2:10
Period 5: 2:10 – 3:10