Staffing: Ms C Fyfe (subject leader) and Mr J Foster (Performing Arts Teaching Assistant)
Drama can be hugely influential for students. The Drama Department at Bury Church of England High School works hard to establish a warm, supportive, mutually respectful learning environment in which students can develop self-awareness, confidence and self-control. We use Drama to raise self-esteem, build a positive self-image and promote assertiveness. We challenge prejudices and actively promote social, moral and spiritual values. Students develop their speaking and listening skills as well as learning how to express themselves physically. We encourage students to work outside their friendship groups, breaking down barriers through cooperation and negotiation. This empowers them to become independent, creative learners, developing skills that will support their learning throughout the curriculum and enable them to become well-rounded, confident citizens.
Key Stage 3
Year 7 and 8 – 1 lesson per fortnight
Our Drama schemes of work in Years 7 and 8 have a very practical focus.
In Year 7 students are introduced to a range of Drama skills and theatrical forms, such as creating a role, improvisation, scripts and physical theatre. They also develop the social skills of communication and cooperation and learn how to present themselves confidently and appropriately in any given situation. They use their creativity and critical skills when creating, performing and responding to drama, and explore issues relating to the wider world.
Term 1: Building up voice and movement skills
Term 2: Teacher-in-role – Darkwood Manor
Term 3: Script writing and Olympic Values
The Year 8 course of study continues to develop these skills.
Term 1: Developing voice and movement skills
Term 2: Loop Dialogues and Teacher-in-role – The Case of the Missing Teen
Term 3: Working with Scripts
Years 9 and 10 – 4 lessons per fortnight
Year 11 – 5 lessons per fortnight
Students who choose Drama as one of their GCSE options build upon the skills they developed in Years 7 and 8. They work on longer projects and create performances in line with the AQA GCSE Drama syllabus:
As you may be aware, GCSE exam specifications are changing. As we get more information from the Exam Boards I will update the information; however, this is how the current Year 10 and 11 curriculum looks:
- Unit 1 (40%) Drama written paper, externally assessed examination
- Unit 2 (60%) Practical work, internally assessed and externally moderated controlled assessments (performances)
Unit 1: The exam asks questions on practical work completed during the course, the study and performance of a scripted play and/or the study of a live theatre production.
Unit 2: The options for practical work include acting, improvisation, theatre-in-education and devised work based on a theme. The 2 best performances from different options are chosen and the marks submitted. A flavour of the practical work follows:
Acting from a published play
This is where students study a play and perform extracts from it. Popular scripts for performing are
- “Two” by Jim Cartwright
- “Blood Brothers” by Willy Russell
- (in Year 9) “Gizmo” by Alan Ayckbourn
Devised Thematic Work
In this highly creative part of the course, students create their own drama performance in response to a stimulus, using elements of script and improvisation. Recent devised performances have been:
- “Alice: Life in a Picture”, inspired by some of the characters in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, transformed into a different setting
- “Sherlock and the Mystery of the Missing Keys”, which took some of the characters from the BBC Sherlock series and reimagined them in a modern high school.
- “The Asylum”, imagining the life stories of inmates in a psychiatric hospital in 1950s Britain
Theatre-In-Education (involving links with PHSE/Citizenship/Global Dimensions)As part of their GCSE Drama course, the students create a Theatre-in-Education piece to perform to other students. Examples are,
- a drama about perceptions of teenagers and anti-social behaviour performed to Year 9 as part of their Being British Citizenship curriculum
- a drama about friendships, relationships and internet safety performed to Years 7 and 8 as part of the Personal Well-being PHSE curriculum
- a drama promoting awareness of different experiences of Christmas, focussing on a comfortable British family, a Syrian family questioning whether to flee their home country and linking that to the Holy Family fleeing Herod’s persecution. This was performed at the Christmas Charities Show.
GCSE results in Drama:
2015: A* – C 81.3%
2014: A* – C 91%
These are organised regularly, and although some are aimed primarily at those studying GCSE Drama, most are open to all, or targeted at specific year groups. Recent, very enjoyable visits include “The Crucible” at the Royal Exchange Theatre and “Mary Poppins” at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. I book evening performances, as being part of a mainly adult audience gives students a better experience of theatre etiquette. GCSE Drama students are expected to attend. Watching professional performances can be inspirational, giving students ideas for their own performances and broadening their understanding of theatre.
Anyone can get involved in this, provided they have the two essential qualities of enthusiasm and commitment, and I would encourage everyone to! The teamwork and discipline required throughout the rehearsal process, the adrenalin rush of the performance and the resulting pride in their achievement can have a lasting impact on an individual’s confidence and self-esteem.
Our school productions are ensemble pieces, with all performers on stage for as much of the time as possible, as this requires greater discipline from the performers, encourages their creativity and independence and celebrates everyone’s contribution.
Students can also get involved in other areas, such as set design, props, costumes, marketing and advertising, as well as joining the technical crew with responsibility for lighting and sound.
Past productions include “Our Day Out”, “Joseph”, “Sister Suffragette”, “Bugsy Malone”.
The 2016 School Production is “The Rebels of Gas Street”, a play with songs, set in Oldham and based on the school strikes of 1911, to be performed November 2016. The new intake of Year 7s are very welcome to get involved when they join us in September 2016.
I hope to continue to provide opportunities to build links with local colleges, by collaborating with the Media department of Bury College with the aim of having a team of their students film the School Production.
Other things to celebrate about the Drama Department at Bury Church!
Links with Primary Schools
Each year we invite local primary schools to the Dress Rehearsal of the School Production. The KS2 students give feedback on the performance and it is always very positive!
Links with Parents
When possible and appropriate, I invite parents and families to Year 11 GCSE performances. It is rewarding for families to see the end result of the hard work put in by the students and good for the students to have an appreciative audience.
Parents are also welcome on some of my theatre visits, although, obviously, priority lies with the students. It is a good opportunity for parents to engage with their child in an extra way and promotes the community spirit of Bury Church.
Links with Charities
The Year 10 GCSE Drama group often make an important contribution to the dance and drama charity talent shows. In previous years the group created a powerful Theatre-in-Education piece to challenge the audience about the plight of street children in Malawi, and then, on a lighter note, performed extracts from a range of American Musicals for “Project Malawi”, which raised thousands of pounds to set up an orphanage in Malawi. This year, Year 10s performed in the Christmas Charities Show a moving piece that linked and contrasted the Christmastime experiences of three families, a comfortable British family, a Syrian family and the holy family, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.
Links with other Departments
The School Production creates many links:
- ICT – tech crew and props
- Maths, English, PHSCE, MFL and RE – assistant directors
- Maths – marketing
- History – props + historical advice
- Music – music!
- PE – dance
- Art – props and set
- Maths, Special Needs and the Office – front of house