The arts make us feel connected to one another and less isolated. Through the arts we share an emotion and that sharing connects us with each other and we realise we all feel the same emotions. The arts are our last hope. We find our identity and make it easier and more pleasurable to live and they also give us wisdom. We see our problems acted out and it’s an important socialising force.
(Arthur Miller - playwright and director)
Drama at Acorn House flourishes in classrooms across the Key stages. All pupils are required to study and practice aspects of drama throughout their education, as part of English and literacy. Pupils are also offered trips to the theatre or a visit to the school from a touring theatre company in order to introduce them to a range of theatre arts, different genres and various cultural traditions, during their education at Acorn House.
Drama makes an important contribution to the development of thinking skills identified in the National Curriculum.
- information-processing skills, eg sequencing and comparing
- reasoning skills, eg drawing inferences and making deductions
- enquiry skills, eg asking relevant questions and testing conclusions
- creative thinking skills, eg generating and extending ideas, applying imagination and looking for alternative endings
- evaluation skills, eg judging the value of their own and others’ work
In addition, in many literacy lessons where drama has been applied pupils are encouraged to reflect on their own thinking. This is known as ‘metacognition’.
Drama promotes language development. Its collaborative nature provides opportunities for pupils to develop key skills of communication, negotiation, compromise and self-assertion. Pupils develop confidence when speaking and their vocabulary is extended when they adopt roles and characters. Pupils also acquire a critical and subject-specific vocabulary through reflecting on and appraising their own work in drama and the work of others.
Drama in schools provides a safe context to explore human issues. Drama at Acorn House usually involves pupils working creatively together and problem solving in groups of various sizes. These skills, along with flexibility, empathy and risk-taking, are intrinsic to good drama practice. They are also recognised as vital in the workplace and throughout adult life. It is recognised the contribution that drama makes to the development of creative thinking and effective teamwork, as well as to the key skills of the National Curriculum. During Fondation stage, drama provides a meaningful context for all children at the Foundation Stage to experiment in role with language for different purposes, whether English is their heritage or additional tongue. During Key Stage 1, pupils move from make-believe dramatic play for themselves to a more consciously planned form of drama, which involve communicating with an audience (their peers or others classes, as well as families during the end of the year party).
During Key Stage 2, pupils use a wider range of dramatic techniques. Increased control of voice and body means that they portray more precisely defined characters. Pupils produce work with a clear story line and structure.
They become familiar with forms such as mime and chorus form. Pupils may learn lines and write short scripts which grow out of practical exploration of a story. At both Key Stages 1 and 2 drama plays a significant role in developing pupils’ insights into narrative and character, as well as their speaking and listening skills.
It thus supports the objectives of the English strand in the Primary Strategy. Both improvised and scripted drama provides a strong stimulus for writing. By writing from the point of view of a particular character (writing in role) children are enabled to express their understanding of the roles, events or situations they have experienced.
During Key stage 3: pupils research, discuss and use drama to explore character and situations as well as for understanding . They experiment with sound, voice, silence, movement, stillness, light and darkness to enhance dramatic action creatively. They take part in plays written by Shakespeare. Pupils can demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding of the cultural, historical and social context of drama they are in or see.