Drama in the National Curriculum

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Drama is a statutory part of English in the National Curriculum for England (2013). The Spoken Language section now reads as follows:

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 paragraph makes a clear statement that all children should learn through and about drama; describes drama as an artistic practice; and makes it clear that young people should be enabled to respond to theatre and performance. It is a first building block for teachers, drama and theatre professionals to base great teaching and learning on.

Other references in the curriculum document include:

  • Role-play and other drama techniques can help pupils to identify with and explore characters. In these ways, they extend their understanding of what they read and have opportunities to try out the language they have listened to.
  • Drama and role-play can contribute to the quality of pupils’ writing by providing opportunities for pupils to develop and order their ideas through playing roles and improvising scenes in various settings.
  • In years 3 and 4, pupils should become more familiar with and confident in using language in a greater variety of situations, for a variety of audiences and purposes, including through drama, formal presentations and debate.
  • Reading, re-reading, and rehearsing poems and plays for presentation and performance give pupils opportunities to discuss language, including vocabulary, extending their interest in the meaning and origin of words. Pupils should be encouraged to use drama approaches to understand how to perform plays and poems to support their understanding of the meaning. These activities also provide them with an incentive to find out what expression is required, so feeding into comprehension.
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