‘All pupils should be enabled to participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama. Pupils should be able to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role. They should have opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama for one another and a range of audiences, as well as to rehearse, refine, share and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances.’
This is the only reference to Drama on the national curriculum. One paragraph. It demonstrates the low priority given to the subject by the Department for Education (DfE), and explains why so many schools prioritise other subjects, yet it has been proven to have profound influence on a child's development, educational engagement, attainment, and achievement in other subjects.
Theatre Workout's founder, Adam Milford, is the Chair of the Drama In Schools programme for the Drama & Theatre Education Alliance (DTEA), an alliance of 14 national associations working in drama and theatre for, with and by children and young people, representing various theatre, arts, universities, training institutions, and school networks. The Drama in Schools programme seeks to raise the status of Drama on the curriculum, calling for increased and frequent engagement with drama in schools, and providing support and advice to help more schools embed Drama into their curriculum.
Through an ongoing consultation process we have heard some amazing examples of schools which have been able to embed drama into their curriculum both as a subject in its own right, and as a teaching methodology, and the profound changes this has had on student engagement, school culture, community and attainment.
It has sadly highlighted the disappointing fact that these tremendous examples are in the minority, with most schools offering very few opportunities to engage with drama on a regular basis, particularly in primary schools.
The consultation has demonstrated a need for:
High-quality teacher training to enable primary teachers to teach drama
Support from SLTs
Funding for training and industry support
Improved relationships between schools and local theatres and theatre companies
Statistical analysis by the Cultural Learning Alliance of government data from 2010-2020 demonstrates:
A 12% reduction in the number of hours in which drama is taught (secondary)
An 18% reduction in the number of specialist drama teachers in secondary schools
Aproximately 48% of all secondary students have no engagement with drama in or out of school
Aproximately 53% of primary students have extra curriculuar engagement with drama
What Can We Do About It?
Theatre Workout has produced:
A series of specialist primary drama Outreach and West End workshops,
Teacher resources to bring more drama into the classroom.
Schools can now provide after-school clubs led by industry professionals, focused on practical skills.