Drama is one of the oldest art forms and enriches any curriculum; it equips students with the tools to tackle and solve problems, to think critically and confidently and to express opinions. These are skills that any young person will need to take with them on their journey throughout education and into the world of work. The creative industries are the fastest growing part if the UK economy, employing more than 2 million people and generating over £100 billion a year. At Stoke Newington School, we firmly believe that studying drama will help our students build their confidence and allow them to engage with this exciting and rapidly expanding industry.
Studying drama requires emotional maturity and allows young people to explore and develop an understanding of themselves and their place in the world. At Stoke Newington School we strive to find a balance between Drama being an academic subject with specific skills and terminology and an experiential subject in which young people can use empathy and understanding to explore a variety of cultures and ideas. Students will learn how the roles of performer, director and designer combine as ‘Theatre Makers’ as well as understanding how social, political, cultural and historical changes have impacted both on the art form and reflect the world we live in.
AT Stoke Newington School our drama curriculum allows students to acquire the tools and knowledge necessary to form and express individual responses to a range of issues. The core of our subject is building young people’s confidence in themselves and how to best communicate their ideas and understanding.
Drama at Key Stage 3
In Year 7 we appreciate that our diverse intake of students will have had a variety of experiences with drama and some will not have had any formal drama education. Our primary goal in Year 7 is to explore basic drama skills such as characterisation, still image, narration, and storytelling – whilst establishing a safe and supportive work environment in which students can be creative and work cooperatively to explore a wide range of themes and ideas.
This work is then consolidated in Year 8 as we begin to explore more critical thinking skills and how to evaluate and analyse drama in the written word. Students also will begin to explore the impact of theatre practitioners throughout history and how they have shaped theatre as we understand it today.
Ultimately our goal is that young people enjoy being creative and expressing themselves allowing them to build confidence and learn to take risks with their work. Our teachers always value the contributions of the students and will help to support emerging expertise in those we teach.
Drama at Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4 students will study towards examination of the EDEXCEL GCSE specification. This begins in Year 9 which provides students with an opportunity to explore all three components of the Edexcel curriculum. Students will explore excerpts of published plays, devise original drama from a given stimulus and consider the impact of the varying roles of theatre makers (performers/directors/designers).
This continues in Year 10 with the first formal assessment of Component One – students will explore a variety of practitioners including Frantic Assembly, Steven Berkoff, Bertolt Brecht and Konstantin Stanislavski amongst others. They will then work collaboratively to create an original performance and document the process in a written portfolio.
Year 11 will focus on performance skills and Director/Designer intentions as we study a set text (An Inspector Calls) and prepare for written examination. Students will also have visits to professional theatre productions and use analytical and evaluative skills to delve deeper into their understanding of how and why Drama is performed.
The Edexcel course is a challenging yet rewarding one which will not only consolidate the skills acquired at Key Stage 3 but also expand and reinforce student’s abilities to analyse, evaluate, develop and curate their ideas and connect these to the world in which they live.
Drama GCSE Edexcel
Component 1 – (40% of GCSE) 60 Marks
- Students create and develop a devised piece from a given stimulus.
- Part 1 – Written Portfolio (45 marks) 1500-2000 words/or presentation 8-10 mins
- Part 2 – 10-20 min performance or realised design
Component 2 – (20% of GCSE)
- Students perform or design from TWO KEY EXTRACTS from a centre chosen performance text.
- Centre can choose group sizes – small groups, duologue/monologue or a mixture of all of these.
- Externally assessed by a visiting examiner.
Component 3 – (40% of GCSE)
- 1hr 30 mins written exam.
- Practical exploration and study of ONE complete performance text.
- Section A explores an extract from the set text with students considering the roles of Actor/Director/Designer.
- Sections B is an evaluation of a live theatre experience.
Drama at Key Stage 5
We hope you will be shocked, excited and challenged by stimulating drama, not only through work within the course, but by exposure to a range of other theatre experiences. At SNS we follow the Edexcel specification, which allows us to choose the play texts to suit you and your group’s strengths. The course aims to introduce you to a range of practitioners and playwrights exploring their work both practically and analytically. The course also encourages a critical and sensitive response to the complexities of theatre. So as well as giving you excellent knowledge of classical theorists, playwrights and practitioners that have changed the face of theatre, you will get the opportunity to respond to the texts from the perspective of actor, director or designer.
You will be taught by highly experienced practitioners of Theatre Studies, providing you with a dynamic learning experience drawn from their wealth of specialist expertise. As well as this outstanding teaching the majority of your lesson will take place in the newly renovated Damian Lunn Theatre, which is equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment.
You will receive superb enrichment opportunities, including regularly visiting professional theatres to see a variety of theatrical events to inform your work as a performer, designer and director. We also offer a range of extracurricular performance opportunities.
Please note that although this course is practical in nature it is 70% written assessment and is very much Drama & Theatre studies. Whilst we explore and encourage different pathways into the performance arts industry this course is at its core, an academic study of theatre makers and their intentions.
Component One – Devising 40% of qualification
- You will devise an original performance piece.
- Use one key extract from a performance text and a theatre practitioner.
- Performer or design routes available.
Internally assessed - Devised performance (20 Marks) PLUS 2500-3000 word Portfolio or recorded presentation (60 Marks)
Component Two – Text in Performance 20% of the qualification.
- Group performance of one key extract from a performance text. (up 45 mins in length)
- Monologue/Duologue from one key extract of a DIFFERENT text.
- Externally Assessed – Visiting examiner
Component 3 – Theatre Makers in Practice - Written Exam 40% of the Qualification
- Section A - Live theatre review
- 20 marks - allowed 500 word notes
- Section B – Page to Stage 36 marks (unseen extract)
- Practical exploration of a complete performance text ‘That Face by Polly Stenham’ – considering realisation in performance.
- Section C– Interpreting a Performance Text 24 Marks (unseen extract)
- Practical exploration and interpretation of a different performance text in light of a practitioner – ‘Woyzeck’ by Georg Buchner
Alongside our taught curriculum at Stoke Newington School, Drama is an important part of every aspect of the school. Our Drama enrichment programme includes a collaborative school production in which students from all year groups can work together with various Departments across the Creative Arts Faculty including Drama Music and Art. Students work alongside staff to create unforgettable shows and can support us with acting/singing/dancing as well as set, costume and lighting design. Students also make up our front of house team and can even work alongside the Media Department filming rehearsals and helping to photograph what is always a memorable week of performances!
Alongside this we also off various performances throughout the year including showcasing students work from all key stages with family and friends. We support the School's Summer Showcase with performances and hosting duties and have had students perform and share work at our annual Senior Citizen’s Christmas party.
Our enrichment programme isn’t all about performance either. We have various partnerships with some of the UK’s most prestigious companies including The Old Vic, Donmar Warehouse and local venues such as Hackney Empire and the Arcola Theatre. Working with our partners provides students with the opportunity to attend professional theatre productions, receive backstage tours and attend in school workshops exploring a variety of themes and skills. Similar to our taught curriculum – enjoying learning and being creative are at the heart of our enrichment activities and will support all young people whatever they choose to do whilst in school and beyond.
Career and future pathways
We firmly believe that our drama curriculum complements all aspects of a student’s education and allow them to flourish as they move towards the world of work. Drama is taught not only to be a specialist arts subject but also to ensure that students have key skills required in any industry. To this end whilst many students continue to study Drama at A level and go on to study performance or Drama degrees we have also supported many young people as they move into the Performing Arts industry. Our GCSE and A level courses are designed to allow students to fully explore the roles of performer, director and designer and so whilst we fully encourage actors, we also see many students continue to study stage and set design, or lighting and music production. Our teachers have a variety of experience and we support students in preparation for auditions for Drama Schools, Universities and acting agents. The expertise in the department include professional acting and Fringe Theatre and we are best positioned to support those students who wish to move into the performing arts industry.
However, it’s not all about acting – we truly feel that studying drama allows young people to grow in confidence, feel that their voices can be heard and consolidate a love of learning. Skills that any young person can take with them into whatever they wish to achieve in the future.