“I thought Drama was when the actors cried; but Drama is when the audience cries.” So said Frank Capra, director of Its A Wonderful Life, but why is Drama is so excellent – not just good – for children? There are many reasons, but we can focus on one key benefit – the improvement Drama can make to a child’s verbal communication skills. In 2014, an article on www.mba.com quoted one recruitment specialist as saying “Communication is KEY. You can have all the financial tools, but if you can’t communicate your point clearly, none of it will matter.” and went on to say “Communications, teamwork, and interpersonal skills are critical—everything we do involves working with other people”. Studies have shown that increasingly employers are valuing so-called “soft skills”, with a recent report stating that soft skills contribute more than £80billion a year to the UK economy, and yet employers say they have no way to judge a candidate’s abilities in these areas… well here in the Drama Department we disagree! Soft skills such as teamwork, communication and creativity CAN be measured – through success in Drama.
Good communication skills are an indispensable life skill, they enable us to make friends, achieve well at school, realise one’s dream job, and go on to succeed in that dream job. In fact, how many jobs or situations in life can you think of that don’t require good communication and the ability to work with others?
This is why we believe that Drama is so important in schools. It teaches students not just how to speak loudly, clearly and confidently, but also many other communication skills, such as focus, concentration and maintaining eye contact. Drama also develops other skills, for example, working creatively in groups, keeping to deadlines and critical thinking. At King Edward VI Handsworth school for Girls, Drama is a discreet subject in the curriculum, with all students having a double lesson per fortnight in Year 7, 8 and 9, and the option to continue studying Drama at GCSE and A-Level.
“Drama’s not safe and it’s not pretty and it’s not kind” – Russell T Davies, Producer Dr Who
Aims and Values
“Every student, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, background, experience, ability or economic means is entitled to a high-quality experience of Drama, taught by committed, enthusiastic teachers, who strive for excellence in themselves and for their students”
To achieve this we provide:
- Opportunities for Drama in the Creative Arts curriculum at KS3;
- Opportunities to take GCSE Drama as an option in Year 10 and to continue studies into Sixth Form.
- A comprehensive extra-curricular programme
- Opportunities for students to perform for an audience
- Possibilities for students to see world-class performances by companies such as the RSC, by organising educational visits to local theatres;
To ensure no student is disadvantaged because of gender, ethnicity, age, background, experience, ability or economic means, provision may be made for students to access fees for workshops, and funding can be accessed for disadvantaged students to enable them to attend educational visits.
Curriculum and Assessment MapsDrama Curriculum and Assessment Map – Year 7Drama Curriculum and Assessment Map – Year 8Drama Curriculum and Assessment Map – Year 9Drama Curriculum and Assessment Map – Year 10Drama Curriculum and Assessment Map- Year 11
Miss H Russell (Head of Department)
Miss D Plante-Bekenn (English & Drama
What’s on pages:
For Year 10 & 11 AQA GCSE Drama Specification:
For Year 12 AQA A-Level Drama and Theatre Specification:
Other Useful Wesbites:
Physical Theatre Companies:
Theatre In Education:
How can parents help?
- Allow quiet time and space for completing actor’s journals and written work for exams.
- Double-check that when your daughter uses a website for research, she is putting the information she finds into her own words. This will help her to check she has understood the information, and makes it easier for her to remember too.
- Please avoid making medical appointments when there is an assessed performance coming up – your daughter will always be working in a group and others may be relying on her in rehearsals.
- Encourage your daughter to read lines with you or a family member at home, by reading in other character’s parts for her. This practice is invaluable when performing scripted plays.
- Find a local youth theatre. They are a great way to develop further skills and gain more confidence through performing.
- Try to see some live theatre if possible. Look out for last minute offers and student stand-by seats where this applies. As well as the big, well-known theatres in Birmingham, look for smaller local productions by touring professional groups, or repertory theatre groups. Look further afield for good-quality affordable productions, for example, Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre.
- Encourage your daughter to proof-read written work by asking to look over it yourself, or even better, have her read it to you to help practice her vocal skills!
- Come and see your daughter’s performances whenever possible. It always means a lot for students to have family and friends in the audience, and helps to boost their performance skills as well.
- For GCSE and A-Level Students, look out for second-hand copies of plays, or books such as Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares and Creating a Character, as well as the excellent Year of the King by Antony Sher, which is a wonderful account of his rehearsal process for playing Richard III.
The study of drama provides students with a wide variety of very marketable skills, including working to deadlines, creative thinking, team work and working independently, confidence and the ability to communicate effectively: all skills employers increasingly list as the most desirable qualities of their employees.
Some students may go on to study Drama or Theatre Studies, or Technical Theatre such as Costume Design, at University or Drama School, or some may choose to use their skills in other areas such as:
- Public Relations
- Advertising Or Marketing
- Or any other area that requires the ability to communicate and the capacity for critical thinking
Many well respected Universities have excellent Drama programs including Queen Mary, Warwick, Bristol and King’s College London, as well as Drama Degrees from other Further Education Colleges, such as the Central School of Speech and Drama, which was rated 8th nationally in 2014. Some students may be keen to secure a first degree before pursuing acting or performance through a post-graduate course, and many drama schools, such as Rose Bruford and Bristol Old Vic, encourage this route, preferring to take more mature students.
Opportunities out of lessons
The Drama Department run extra-curricular clubs in lunchtimes throughout the year, with Drama Club, Musical Theatre Club and the Back-Stage Crew being very popular.
Each year King Edward VI Handsworth Girls, King Edward VI Handsworth Boys and King Edward VI Aston put on a joint-schools production, alternating which school runs it each year. Previous year’s shows include:
2019 – “Kings of the North” at Aston
2018 – “Pride, Prejudice and Rock n Roll” at Handsworth Girls
2017 – “Guys and Dolls” at Aston
2016 – “Our House” at Handsworth Girls
Students are expected to audition for the show early in the school year, and those successful rehearse after school, using the Green Bus service to travel between schools as necessary.
We also run several theatre trips throughout the year. Recent productions we have taken students to see include:
“The Woman in Black” at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
“Pygmalion” at The Royal Theatre, Bath
“Blood Brothers” at the Birmingham Hippodrome
“Doctor Faustus” at the Barbican, London
There are also regular evening showcase performances, particularly for GCSE and A-Level work, where invited audiences are encouraged to come and support the student’s work.
What’s on pages:
Physical Theatre Companies:
Theatre In Education:
Information from the Arts Council on Drama in schools: