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Dartford Grammar School

Drama & Theatre Arts

Drama is life with all the dull parts left out! - Alfred Hitchcock

Intent: Curriculum statement:   

Drama is an incredibly rewarding and dynamic subject that teaches students not just about the arts, from a global perspective, but also the personal skills and attributes that will enable students to succeed in all walks of life as they grow up. The skills provided through studying Drama, such as confidence, creative thinking, and self-management, are all skills which are desirable for future employers and future careers. In addition, there is a precise focus within the curriculum upon specific drama skills and techniques to develop a broad range of understanding of global theatrical concepts, from Brecht’s Epic Theatre to south Asia’s Kathakali. We pride ourselves upon that our curriculum is built upon its self-improving model and is a department offering a diverse and inclusive Drama curriculum to all of its students. Students can expect to study practitioners and art forms from a range of cultures and communities from around the world, representing a wide number of groups and individuals to increase representation in our curriculum. 

Implementation of the Curriculum 

Key Stage 3 Drama provides a foundation of knowledge and skills for students to gain confidence, and creative thinking skills, as they embark on their learning journey in the subject. Students are exposed to a broad and diverse scheme of work that develop Drama literacy through performance, design and research activities. These are conducted collaboratively and independently to foster a love for the subject and a determination to achieve highly. The Drama Department has consistently high standards and exemplary success rates for grades year on year. The KS3 curriculum has a clear thread through it, beginning with ‘Developing Confidence’ in Year 7, moving to ‘Becoming Creative’ in Year 8 before culminating in ‘Independence in Drama’ in Year 9, which promotes both individual and collaborative practice. The curriculum is fully Middle Years Programme compliant, with a robust assessment model which rigorously, but fairly, tests and develops the students’ skillset in a uniform way, which is representative of the department’s assessment strategy. 

We follow the Edexcel GCSE requirements at KS4, studying Dennis Kelly’s DNA and Inua Ellams’ Barbershop Chronicles, as well as the assessment requirements of the International Baccalaureate for Theatre Arts at both Higher and Standard level.  

At KS5, The Drama department follow the IBO Theatre Arts Diploma course. This course has no written exam and is assessed by 4 pieces of coursework, weighted at 20%, 25%, 20% and 35%. The first year of study explores a variety of theatrical practitioners and styles of performance, and the second year involves the completion of the 4 pieces of coursework

A variety of teaching and learning styles are implemented by all that make lessons well-paced, pitched at the right level with differentiation and extension of activities where appropriate, to make lessons fun, interesting, engaging and provide the right environment to allow progress to be made by all. The department calls upon a plethora of resources and learning aids including an extensive library of books, videos, technology, digital resources and teacher-made materials. There is a lot of collaboration within the team and we look to form cross-curricular links with other departments, whilst also being committed to enriching the curriculum by offering a variety of trips, workshops and opportunities to perform in whole school productions. 

Impact of the Curriculum 

At KS3, students are given assessments that embed key skills that are applicable to the study of drama, including recall of core knowledge, using key vocabulary, understanding the nature of devising, and developing performances both collectively and individually. The Curriculum allows for the development of key skills and dramatic concepts over time while also utilising prior knowledge by using a curriculum rich in making links to past topics. This allows for retrieval of knowledge and links between topics to be forged, along with a sense of cultural capital being fostered through the broad co-curricular of the subject through trips, workshops and specifically designed sessions. Performances and mock exams are completed throughout KS4 and 5, with extensive feedback and assessment for learning initiatives implemented to all students.  We also organise extra-curricular revision sessions. 

Year 7

Year 7 study various aspects of Drama within their first year at the school. We work hard to develop their social skills, confidence and group work. The topics studied are:

  • Fairy Tales
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Physical Theatre and Horror
  • Dance
  • Greek Theatre
  • Treasure Island

Acting is such an unnatural thing to do. - Helen Mirren

Year 8

Year 8 have the skills they need from their work in Year 7. They now apply them to their practical work and learn to develop their performance skills and theoretical knowledge of the subject. The topics studied are:

  • WW2 Experiences
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Macbeth
  • Commedia Dell'Arte
  • Derek Bentley
  • Migration on Stage

To infinity and beyond. - Buzz Light-year (Toy Story)

Year 9

For those students who choose to continue with Drama we work very closely with the GCSE criteria. Students study various texts and extracts and work closely on creating devised and improvised work. They also study the Arts Award Bronze which is a level 1 Qualification and recognised by Colleges and Universities. Within this they complete 4 sections of work in a portfolio:

  • Section A – Taking Part in an Arts Event
  • Section B – Watching a live Arts Event
  • Section C – Arts Inspiration
  • Section D – Creating and leading an Arts based workshop

The Arts Award is a fun and innovative qualification that helps the students to build on all Drama skills and allows them to complete work on their own and in groups.

Other units of work looked at throughout the year are:

  • Devising Projects focused around Youth Prisons and using news stories as a stimulus for performance
  • Work on silent drama
  • An independent group project educating about Healthy Eating

Acting is just one big bag of tricks. - Laurence Olivier

Years 10 and 11

At GCSE level we follow the Edexcel syllabus which consists of 3 Units:

  • Unit 1 is a devised group piece created in groups and supported with a written portfolio (40%)
  • Unit 2 is the performance of 2 extracts from a text (20%)
  • Unit 3 is a 1 hour 45 minutes written examination (40%).

Drama is life acted out again and again. - Year 7 Student

Years 12 and 13 Theatre Arts

Year 12 and 13 follow the IB Theatre Arts syllabus; within this they study theatre from around the world rather than a traditional focus on European. The Units they look at are:

  • Production Proposal
  • Research Presentation
  • Collaborative Project
  • Solo Performance (HL Only)

This is a practical based course with no written examination and coursework based assessment.

I can take an empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged. - Peter Brook

Extra Curricular Activities in the Drama Department

We offer many Extra-Curricular clubs and projects at DGS. The following have run the past few years:

  • A school production of a musical, put on annually. Recent productions include Bugsy Malone, Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story and Guys & Dolls.
  • Shakespeare Schools Festival. Recent productions include Othello, Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing
  • Key Stage Three Drama club and production
  • Dance workshops with the Brit School
  • Workshops with Vamos Theatre, Frantic Assembly and Les Enfants Terribles
  • Trips to the West End
  • Playwriting workshops with the National Theatre