Key Stage 3
Our Key Stage 3 curriculum, which encompasses Year 7 and 8 is designed to prepare students for to be able to study Drama at GCSE Level. It has undergone a complete overhaul recently and is formed to teach students the basic acting skills and dramatic techniques used to create effective theatre. The students have opportunities to improvise, learn and interpret scripts and devise their own pieces of theatre, whilst exploring the world from the safety of the classroom. They are challenged to offer opinions, evaluate their own and others’ work and to foster their imagination and creativity.
The schemes and detail for each year group are outlined below.
Year 7 – Six Projects
Improvisation, Storytelling, Drama Skills, Scripts, Devising and Practical Shakespeare
Aside from the developing and extending their creativity, pupils are given the opportunity to hone their ability in the following areas:
- Creating – Devise plays from a range of stimuli. Respond to the use of drama techniques to deepen the role or understanding of the situation, eg the use of images, hot seating.
- Performing – Act out improvised dramas and existing scripts, creating characters that are clearly different from themselves, and experiment with voice, gesture, costumes and staging.
- Evaluating – Reflect on the action taken by characters in the drama and consider alternative responses. Both in and out of role, comment thoughtfully on the drama and suggest ways of improving it.
Year 8 – Six Projects
Improvisation, Shakespeare ‘innit’, Blackout, The Departure, Letters and History retold
The projects in Year 8 are aimed at continuing to develop the key concepts in drama, and building on skills in making and performing drama, readying students for the next step into study of the subject at GCSE Level. Many students will be involved in the extra-curricular provision we have on offer at the school and will be given opportunities to draw ideas, skills and experiences gained from such projects into the classroom to enrich their work. Actors explore how to produce effective and imaginative theatre. They are actively involved in workshops, devising, designing, directing as well as performing and they develop their understanding of how to use texts and rehearsal techniques. During the year they are challenged to:
- Create more complex and creative scenarios within improvisations and multi-scene productions, which draw links to the wider world and society
- Understand conventions of writing a short script – use of plot, subplot, characterisation, language and how to use stage directions effectively
- Develop the use of blocking and proxemics in the early stages of creation
- Show the use of a variety of different dramatic conventions in different styles of theatrical events.
- Develop dramatic movement, using body language and other non-verbal means of communication to great effect in drama.
- Understand the use of metaphor, symbolism and realism in communicating ideas to an audience.
- Understand how approaching extracts from classic texts from a modern perspective, allows us to see how they can be interpreted to create impact and engagement for today’s audiences
Drama – Yr7 – Learner Descriptors:
Drama – Yr8 – Learner Descriptors:
Key Stage 4
GCSE (Exam Board: OCR)
What will students study in lessons?
The OCR course is demanding but thoroughly rewarding. Students are required to develop practical, creative and communication skills to apply to a variety of different contexts. Students will develop the skills necessary to understand and evaluate the way in which playwrights, directors, designers and performers use the medium of Drama to create theatre, as work to create both devised and scripted pieces. They will take part in workshops which they explore their understanding of play texts through practical and written exercises. They will have to communicate ideas, feelings and meanings with an audience as a performer and director.
To ensure students understand the way in which the arts are a reflection of the time they are conceived and performed in; they will analyse the social, cultural and historic context of plays studied, theatre seen and Drama they create, allowing them to see the relevance of these to modern audiences and wider society. Whilst learning a great deal about making, performing and evaluating drama and theatre, they will also learn about themselves. The associated skills they develop throughout the course will prove invaluable to employers and universities, who are keen to appoint imaginative drama students with talents in communication, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving and time management.
How is the course structured?
The GCSE course is now split into 3 main units of study. These are listed below, together with a short description as to their content.
Presenting and Performing Texts: Non-Examined Coursework (30% Internally Assessed)
This unit is about starting you on your journey to becoming a professional actor and learning how to transfer a play from the page to the stage. You will be introduced to important acting skills and will learn about the specific demands that acting makes on the body and mind. In particular, you will undertake a programme of regular workshops to help you master the techniques that will enable you to control and use your voice and body to communicate a character or role. As well as physical skills, you will also need to use your imagination to create characters or roles. This unit will therefore also help you to hone your mental skills, and you will be expected to demonstrate progress in all areas throughout the unit.
An actor who works with a text is an interpreter whereas an actor who acts without a text is an improviser. This unit will help you to apply your physical and mental skills to both roles. The demands placed upon an actor’s body, in terms of vocal and movement skills. For assessment students will study a full and complete play selected by us, and then perform for assessment, two different extracts from it for an invited audience. In addition to this, students will compile as set of accompanying notes detailing the process they went through in forging the work and how they met their intentions.
Devising Drama: Non-Examined Assessment (30% Internally Assessed)
Students will respond to a stimulus task set by the Exam Board and create a unique piece of Theatre in response to it. Preparation will occur through participation in a number of workshops on different Theatre Practitioners which will provide you with the opportunity to have creative ownership over the structure, style, conventions and performance staging ideas used in your work. You will experiment with these in the rehearsal stage as you fashion the content of your work and decide on the most appropriate forms for your purposes. With these newly acquired skills you will be encouraged to explore the set materials from a variety of different angles. Students will then have the opportunity to create their piece of theatre in response to the material and will be encouraged to consider both practical acting techniques as well as technical conventions such as lighting, sound and multimedia aspects of performance in order to convey their intention to the audience. Students will be primarily assessed on the quality of the performance given to the examiner, but marks will also be awarded for the quality of the written work which accompanies the drama, documenting the process undertaken to create the piece of theatre.
Drama Performance and Response: Written Exam (40% Externally Assessed)
Students will study one of the set texts prescribed by the exam board through a series of practical workshops in lessons, covering topics of acting, staging and directing, gaining a thorough appreciation of transferring a text from the page to the stage. Students will then be questioned on how drama is developed and performed through a series of short and medium answers. For Section B, students will review one of the amazing pieces of theatre we see during the course, analysing the theatrical elements used and the effect on the audience.
Please click the link below to access the Drama Personal Learner Checklist:
Key Stage 5
AS and A Level (Exam Board: OCR)
Drama is an exciting, energising and challenging subject which will enrich you on both a personal and academic level. To watch and be part of live performances, to go through something together as a group, learning about them, laughing with them, helping them over good and bad times and sharing the intense moments of happiness and nervousness, is how we might describe the most precious moments of our lives and yet is precisely all those things you go through putting on a play or being part of a course of Drama. It is useful to have taken Drama at GCSE level but not essential. You may have gathered a plethora of experiences from extra-curricular experiences in Drama and Theatre which will act as great preparation for studying at this level. The course will further develop your ability to reflect on professional theatre, and how to fuse the influence of playwrights and practitioners into your own work. Your knowledge, understanding and skills will be enhanced by practical and theoretical components in research and performance.
What do students study in lessons?
The AS Level is split into two units which are outlined below
Unit 1 – Process to Performance: Non-Examined Assessment – (60% Internally Assessed)
The aim of this component is to use acting skills to communicate the meaning in a performance text to an audience. Learners study the play Dr Korczak’s Example by David Greig and are taken through a series of practical workshops as we explore this amazing and powerful text.
The component is designed for learners to research and evaluate the work of a practitioner, in our case Bertolt Brecht, through written analysis and practical performance. Learners demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of how meaning is communicated to an audience in a practical performance which can be made up of monologues, duologues and group performance of extracts from the text. There are two written components which accompany this unit, which are outlined below.
Research into practitioners and the work of others – Research Report
The research report will have a maximum of 2000 words and will include a detailed breakdown of the practical exercises completed and the stages of exploration using the performance text.
Creating and developing their performance – Portfolio
Learners will produce a portfolio of their process including how they developed their performance and analysis and evaluation of the process. Learners may include notes, sketches, diagrams, scripts, audio commentary, video diary, blogs, storyboards, photographs and annotations as part of their portfolio. Learners should also analyse and evaluate their work throughout the process.
Unit 2 – Exploring Performance: Examined Assessment – (40% Externally Assessed)
This component consists of two sections assessed via a written examination. The aim of Section A is to enable learners to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how extracts from the chosen texts can be rehearsed and interpreted in performance, showing an awareness of characterisation, performance style, genre and context. Students will study two plays, The Love of the Nightingale by Timberlake Wertenbaker and Othello by William Shakespeare. Students gain an understanding of all the key elements required by participating in a series of practical workshops and ultimately staging extracts from the texts in a performance environment for an audience prior to the written examination itself.
In Section B learners are required to have seen a live theatre performance. Students will see a large variety of performances during the AS course and will choose one which will be analysed and evaluated for this component.
The full A Level is split into three units which are outlined below
Unit 1 – Practitioners in Practice: Non-Examined Assessment – (40% Internally Assessed)
This unit is very practically based and offers students the chance to explore and experiment with the work of two existing theatre practitioners in a very practical way and to use the skills gained to explore existing texts (including Dr Korczak’s Example) as well as having the opportunity to create devised theatre for audiences.
Having explored the practitioner work, students explore the performance possibilities of both, in relation to an existing performance text. Students will be marked on their practical exploration and application of theories to practice. Together with how they document the process, outcomes and key learning points, in a research report.
Students then create a unique piece of devised theatre. They are assessed on how they contribute to the practical creation of the piece and the actual performance. They will create a portfolio alongside the practical work, reflecting on the research and development work as well as evidencing an evaluation of the process and performance itself.
Unit 2 – Exploring and Performing Texts: Practical Assessment – (20% Visiting Examiner)
This unit offers students the chance to demonstrate skills in a performance environment. The knowledge and understanding gained during the study of Unit 1 can now be applied with a view to delivering a naturalistic performance. This is an external practically assessed unit, with a visiting examiner marking the performance. Students will study an entire play and then perform an extract from it lasting up to 45 minutes. A short accompanying document detailing how you have interpreted the role for performance, will also be sent to the examiner prior to the performance.
Unit 3 – Analysing Performance and Deconstructing Texts for Performance:
Written Assessment – (40% Written Exam) – 2 papers carrying an equal weighting of 20%
In section A of this paper, learners will demonstrate knowledge/understanding of how extracts from a chosen play can be rehearsed and interpreted in performance, showing an awareness of characterisation, performance style, genre and context. Students will explore the creative possibilities of staging the two different performance texts which explore a specific theme through a series of practical workshops to prepare for the examination
Section B focuses on the analysis of a live piece of theatre seen during the course. Students will be required to deconstruct the theatrical elements employed by the company and the effects this may have on audience members. Learners will also be challenged to consider how characters can be interpreted and developed for performance.
Deconstructing texts for performance
In this paper, students will explore the creative possibilities of staging the chosen performance text, prescribed by the examination board. Although this component is also assessed through a written exam, preparation will consist of extensive practical study through workshops. Learners are required to explore the performance text practically through the role of the director, deconstructing the text and exploring how any of its scenes can be staged and performed for an audience. Learners will analyse and interpret the performance text in depth.