Drama is everywhere…from the television programs you watch to the presentations you are asked to give at school. So why not learn the secrets of performance work? Learn how to direct, act and technically create an engaging piece of drama while continually developing your confidence.
In drama we explore a variety of theatre forms, from the comical to the abstract. All schemes of learning are designed to equip students with the transferable skills needed to make progress academically and socially in other curriculum areas, as well as support the study of drama at Key Stage 4.
In Year 8 students look at the theatre industry with a firm focus on the devising process and characterisation. Units of Study explore: Poor Theatre; Non-Naturalism; Status; Stanislavski; Commedia and Shakespeare.
In Year 9 students explore theatre genre in more depth exploring: Melodrama; Silent Movies; Bretch; Stimulus and a Play text.
In both years, students are assessed in three areas: Making (imaginative devised work and script work), Performing (develop the confidence to perform in front of others as well as manage the technical operation of a performance) and Responding (reflect and evaluate their work and the work of others in a mature and critical way).
Homework and additional learning:
Students at Key Stage Three are required to complete a page of their Drama Log for homework. The Drama Log forms one third of their overall drama grade as its completion fulfils the Responding requirement of the assessment process.
Students are also encouraged to watch theatre performances to gain ideas on how to improve their own performance work.
Here at Cantell, students have the choice of two Key Stage Four pathways: GCSE Drama or BTEC First in Performing Arts: Acting. The exam board for both courses is Edexcel.
GCSE: Due to the academic rigours of the GCSE course, it is advised that students wanting to study on this course gain a minimum Level 5 in English at the end of Year 9. GCSE students study three units: Unit 1 – Theme based; Unit 2 – A Play Text and Unit 3 – Practical exam to an outside examiner. Students are expected to complete written coursework in each unit totalling 6,000 words as well as filmed practical coursework, which equates to 60% of their final grade. The remaining 40% is covered in Unit 3 when students create their own play and perform to an Edexcel examiner.
BTEC: The BTEC course in is a predominantly practical course and therefore suitable for vocational learners. Students wishing to study on this course need to demonstrate their commitment to drama at Key Stage Three, as well as the wider school community, as time will need to be spent in the department after school preparing performances. Students on the BTEC course undertake three Units of Work: Acting; Devising and Scripted plays. All examined performances need to be performed to industry standard. Although a practical course, students are expected to keep a reflective log book and complete written tasks.
Homework at Key Stage 4 involves preparing for their written coursework by completing a topic log book.
Students are advised to join drama club or take part in the school performance to gain performance practice. Students are also encouraged to watch theatre performances to gain ideas on how to improve their own performance work.
Students are assessed against National Curriculum levels three times a year. There is continual peer and self assessment throughout the course.
Drama raises questions with young people which enable them to explore the world, form opinions about it, and create and shape their place in that world. Department schemes of work allow students to do this using the Arts Council for England’s recommended framework: Making, Performing, and Responding. Schemes studied introduce students to a wide variety of practitioners, skills and issues.
Students are taught to work in an evaluative and reflective way to develop their own abilities and responses.
Assessing and Reporting on students’ Attainment in Drama
The Nature of Assessment
Formative assessment, in which the teacher helps the student to identify the progress they are making in a diagnostic way, lies at the heart of Arts Education. Formative assessment is both supportive and motivating, encouraging students to explore fresh possibilities and take increasing responsibility for their learning.
Summative assessment in drama, based upon Key Stage criteria, takes place at then end of the scheme of work as well as during the school’s four assessment periods throughout the year.
To ensure continuity in drama, students require clear learning goals and frequent opportunities to reflect upon their work. They should always be able to place what they are learning in the wider context of the drama curriculum as a whole.
The structure of the drama curriculum should also make it clear to students how they can progress. There should be a general increase in the level of dramatic knowledge, understanding and of skills, as students pass through the key stages. Progression in drama will be recognised by the extent to which students are able to Make, Perform and Respond with increasing levels of complexity, control, depth and independence.
While all three areas are assessed by the class teacher in all schemes of work taught, Responding is partially fulfilled through the form of a written log book which is completed after every drama lesson for homework.
In their Drama Log Books students are expected to reflect upon their learning during lessons by outlining the skills and techniques they have experienced and acquired. Students are expected to be analytical and evaluative when completing their log books. A student’s drama log homework equates to a third of their overall drama level.
Because drama is studied for a double period once a fortnight at Key Stage Three, the drama log helps to provide continuity between each lesson and the learning that takes place. It is therefore important that the drama log books are completed after each lesson and brought to each drama lesson. The logs are marked every three weeks, with teachers linking their comments to the ‘responding’ element of the level descriptors.
Drama homework is considered an important extension of class work and while the department understands that students sometimes ‘forget’ to bring their log book, we do operate a three strike policy. One/two strikes equates to a slip home reminding students to bring their log book in; whereas after three strikes the student is required to spend thirty minutes in the department under the supervision of their class teacher. During this time, the student will complete any aspects of the log that are incomplete.
‘Extended project’ homeworks sit alongside the completion of the drama log books and are designed to compliment the learning that is taking place in the scheme of work currently being studied by the student. The exact focus of a project is at the class teacher’s discretion, but will generally be aimed at developing the students understanding of the scheme of work’s central practitioner.
Differentiation by task will be achieved by organising tasks that encourage learning by building on existing attainment. Differentiation by outcome accepts that some students will complete tasks more successfully than others.
Successful differentiation by task is achieved when teachers are aware of individual students’ strengths and weaknesses in drama and organise tasks which encourage learning by acknowledging and building on existing attainment.
Each scheme of work should have clear leaning aims which are achieved through completion of each lesson. Each lesson should have clear objectives and outcomes that will reinforce the department’s assessment procedures. All aims, objectives and outcomes should be conveyed to the students at the start of the scheme of work as well as at the start of each lesson.
Each scheme of work will have a variety of actives that cover the three main elements of drama: Making, Performing and Responding. Throughout each scheme the class teacher will assess students in each of the three areas and award levels in accordance with the Arts Council Document. All levels are recorded in the class teacher’s planner as well as on the central school system. For example:
4C (denotes a low Level 4)
4B (denotes a mid Level 4)
4A (denotes a high Level 4)
Generally there are three expected levels of progress at Key Stage 3:
A student performing as expected for their age in Year 7 should approximately achieve a Level 3
A student performing as expected for their age in Year 8 should approximately achieve a Level 4
A student performing as expected for their age in Year 9 should approximately achieve a Level 5
Discussions with students regarding their work and progress are a routine part of classroom procedure. When criticism is made, it should be constructive, precise and take account of the student’s ability, in order that it can be seen as positive in nature.
Where students have made an excellent effort-be it in an individual lesson or over the course of a scheme-or excellent progress in relation to their level of ability, it will be recognised in one of the following ways:
Recognition on an individual lesson basis
Drama Stickers (awarded for: Commitment; Courtesy; Creativity; Challenge; Co-operation)
Recognition over the course of several lessons
Recognition over the course of an academic year
Drama Award (awarded to students at the annual rewards evening)
The department follows the schools Restorative Approaches Policy and are proud to be part of designated ‘R.A’ team lead by Mr Des Anderson.
Year 7 Units:
Please refer to the Year 7 area of the website
Year 8 Units:
Learn how to create ‘skip theatre’ through the study of Grotowski’s Poor theatre. Learn how to create effective characterisations by exploring Stanislavski’s System. Learn Non- naturalistic techniques through the study of a thematic scheme of work. This year the scheme focuses on Theatre in Education - Cyber Bullying.
Study texts from different times and cultures, as well as a range of genres. This year, students will study Commedia Dell’ Arte and the works of Shakespeare.
Year 9 Units:
Re-visit comedy in the form of Melodrama.
Prepare for the skills needed at GCSE by studying a scheme on devising work.
Learn the practices and methodologies of Brecht and even the learn the art of stage combat! Through this students learn about the silent movie genre,
how to film their work, edit their work and learn how to create a sound track to accompany their work.
Over the course of two years you will experience what it is like to devise, direct, light and stage a play for a performance, study both classic and modern play scripts. Studying drama practitioners is one thing, but learning their rehearsal methods and putting them into practice is quite another! Stanislavski, Brecht and Grotowski are the three main practitioners you will study on this course and over the two years you will implement their methodologies into your class and performance work.
For this unit you will explore how drama shapes the world we live in, from being a tool for social change, to just pure entertainment. In this unit you will engage in a programme of work that will help you to appreciate how a variety of drama activities can be used to deepen you understanding of drama form.
Through practical engagement, you will explore a given theme; topic or issue and come to appreciate how the dramatic medium and strategies can be used to create drama form and communicate meaning. The work produced for this unit is intended to have meaning for the participants, through deep analysis and evaluation, and is not intended for performance to a theatre audience.
Unit Two: Exploring Play Texts
This unit introduce you to the content of plays written for the theatre. You will learn how to interpret a play in various ways and understand how a play works in performance.
The main focus of this unit is how meaning is communicate through:
-the interpretation of a complete and substantial play text
-playwrights, directors, designers and performers
-evaluating the effectiveness of different interpretations
-developing performance skills and rehearsal techniques
-developing and realising ideas in response to a play within a group
-using the language of drama to communicate ideas to others
-exploring different staging methods
-understanding the social, cultural and historical context
And this is just the small list! All of the above is explored both practically and through a series of written tasks.
Unit Three: Practical Paper
This paper is a purely practical paper and is assessed by an external examiner, not the classroom teacher. This unit provides you with the opportunity to: demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of practical drama skills and apply it to a live performance.
In groups, you has the choice to devise a play, act out a script or combine both options in what we call the ‘third way’. If acting is not for you, you may decide to be assessed in how you support a performance through the use of sound, light, costumes and props.
Work carried out in Units One and Two can form the basis of the skills needed for this final examination performance.