Principles and Purpose of Drama Curriculum

Drama is a window to the world. It is our goal to expose students to a rich variety of styles, genres and methods of theatrical production, to provide a platform through which students can explore local and global issues. The ‘golden thread’ from KS1 → KS5 in our subject is mastering confident communication, creativity and critical evaluation. Drama also offers students the opportunity to exercise School values of Kindness, Courage, Hope in all lessons through encouragement, involvement and reflection.


We want students to know that you don’t have to be an ‘actor’ to love drama - their KS2 experience might only have been through participation in school productions. Throughout KS3, 4 & 5 we endeavour to ensure students have experienced a range of genres, dramatic theories and styles of performance, roles within the theatre, an introduction to theatre design and learnt about the importance of feedback, collaboration, direction and review. Topics are introduced at KS3 which aim to give a fun insight into GCSE - inspiring and creating confidence for all learners - our inherent goal is to inspire and support our SEND cohorts and stretch our highest ability learners. At GCSE students are pushed to experiment, gain self-confidence and take ownership of their interpretation of texts, styles and performances whilst attributing accurate terminology to justify their choices.  At A Level those skills are taken to a much deeper level of theoretical understanding; students must write analytically and evaluatively about the decision making processes and they must also take responsibility for the total realisation of performance work with confident understanding of their chosen practitioners - collaborating with designers, directors and ‘front of house’ to bring a whole piece of work to life. This gives them the insight into life in the professional theatre and working as a theatre company; whether as a performer or otherwise.

Why this, why now?

  • Substantive knowledge:  The building blocks of drama are revisited in every unit: use of physical skills, vocal skills, use of space, responding to a stimulus or script, devising, rehearsing and improvisation, reflection and evaluation. As students move through the school, they are introduced to more advanced concepts of stagecraft, design and the nuances of different styles and genres. We also teach Tier 2 and 3 key theatrical terminology explicitly. 


  • Disciplinary knowledge: students will be taught how to apply this key terminology and the building blocks of drama through practical performance and the impact this will have when communicated to an audience. This will be taught through a variety of age-appropriate texts, stimuli and topics, which may change year-to-year, depending on the cohort’s specific needs. For example, in Year 7 we begin looking at familiar children’s stories which have been adapted for the stage, moving to more challenging texts such as ‘Noughts & Crosses’ in Year 8, and ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in Year 9 - preparing students for the rigours of GCSE and A Level set texts. In each year of KS3, we reflect the structure of GCSE and A Level by ensuring students access scripted work, devising work, theatre design and reflect on live theatre. 


  • Interdisciplinary knowledge:  We teach interdisciplinary communication skills which will serve all curriculum subjects. Students will develop their analytical and evaluative thinking when commenting on their own or others’ performance work; this is transferable across the curriculum. We also draw on the history of theatre wherever relevant, making links to specific time periods, social and cultural phenomena. There are particularly strong links to the analytical skills used in English and the creative processes taught in the visual art and music departments. 

Powerful knowledge: Powerful knowledge is shown in the understanding of everything that goes into making a production successful before it gets to the final performance: the crafting of writers and directors, dramaturgy and the theory of the style of performance and finally the experience by audiences of a piece of theatre. The most powerful knowledge in our subject is the understanding that drama extends far beyond “acting”. Those who have an appreciation of, or critical response to, theatre in all its forms, and who are able to make connections between performance, literature, music and visual arts, are likely to seek opportunities to enhance and extend their own cultural capital. They are not only exposed to their current societal climate but those that are diverse, historical or politically different to their own.

Drama Curriculum

Teaching the Drama Curriculum

Students at all key stages will be given the opportunity to practice key drama skills which underpin performance and theatrical design:

  • Devising Drama
  • Scripted Extracts
  • Theatre Craft & Design
  • Live Theatre


In practical lessons students will be engaged and contributing, no matter their role within a performance piece; they will work creatively and critically to achieve their dramatic intent. Teachers will facilitate and expect the use of high level vocabulary to explain complex theatrical / production elements, in both verbal discussion and written work. This is achieved through explicit teaching and retrieval practice of this key vocabulary.


Through game-play, improvising, devising and working with scripts/stimuli, pupils will learn the intricacies of every stage of the creative process. Pupils are shown the need for commitment and hard work, as well as the ability to work collaboratively, and therefore evaluate both their own work and that of others. Although fun and active, self-discipline, independent learning and responsibility (essential elements of the creative process) are also key features within the teaching and learning, giving students personal skills needed across the curriculum and beyond. The subject provides broad-ranging skills: experimentation, creativity, evaluation, rehearsal and redrafting, business management, team work, technical design skills, public speaking, empathy, hospitality, to name but a few. This allows them to become “leaders” in many different fields.

Assessing the Drama Curriculum

KS3 Books allow for a record of live marking and instil a culture of target setting and reflection in every lesson. Key skills are ranked by difficulty across Year 7, 8 and 9 - pupils develop their ability to assess, reflect on their successes and track their progress over time using this system.


KS4 & 5 work is live marked in practical lessons; this is the most immediate way of providing feedback to pupils, ensuring that they make changes effectively in their creative process. They are encouraged to note down these changes / improvements / “lightbulb moments” which can then be explored in more detail in their written coursework. Written feedback is given on exam answers in line with the departmental marking policy. Students document successes and areas for development in the trackers in their books / folders so that they can measure progress over time and quickly see the areas for revision focus. 


Assessment points across the curriculum

Key Stage 3  

Y7: Scripted unit - ‘books as plays’ (group performance & written evaluation of work); Theatre Craft unit - ‘Mask & Mime’ (creation and use of Trestle mask & written evaluation of work); ‘Telling my Story’ (monologue writing / performance & written evaluation of work);.

Y8: Scripted unit - ‘Noughts & Crosses’ (duologue performances & written evaluation of work); Theatre Craft unit - melodrama & villains (costume to support characterisation & written evaluation of work); Devising Unit- ‘Kindertransport’ (group performance & written evaluation of work). 

Y9: Shakespeare Unit (each house group has a term of Drama): scripted performance of scenes from Romeo & Juliet; live theatre essay.


Key Stage 4

COMPONENT 1: informal testing for terminology (Section A); low stakes practice of Blood Brothers scenes / description / character analysis (Section B); review of live theatre essays and planning key moments to prepare for exams (Section C) - formal marking of mock exams.

COMPONENT 2: mock devising pieces and mock devising logs (Year 10) - followed by the internally assessed performance and devising logs later in the year, commented on via Google Docs by the class teacher. Formally assessed by teachers and moderated by AQA. 

COMPONENT 3: ongoing verbal feedback and teacher direction of practical work. Examined by AQA in Year 11. 


Key Stage 5

COMPONENT 1: low stakes practice of exam style writing as director / performer / designer for scenes in set texts (Section A & B); review of live theatre essays and planning key moments to prepare for exams (Section C) - formal marking of mock exams.

COMPONENT 2: workshops on the chosen practitioner and teacher-led direction of practical work. Peer-assessment of practical work with an updated record of progress through the Working notebook - monitored in comments by teachers. Formally assessed by teachers and moderated by AQA. 

COMPONENT 3: ongoing verbal feedback and teacher direction of practical work. Peer-assessment of practical work with an updated record of progress through the Reflective Report - monitored in comments by teachers. Examined by AQA in Year 13.

Progression in the Drama Curriculum

Students will be able to explain how meaning is created through performance and design. They will be able to use vocal and physical skills (see progression of these through KS3 below) to convey meaning and make their communication clear. They will exercise creativity, critical appreciation and evaluation of their own and others’ work. 

They will develop the following skills as they progress through our learning sequences:

  • Oracy & confident articulation
  • Cultural capital & appreciation
  • Performative skills useful in Drama but also employability / Interview technique
  • Critical evaluation
  • Audience empathy
  • Team and time management
  • Theatrical Design 
  • Technical theatrical implementation



SKILL AREA: Physicality


SKILL AREA: Drama Techniques

Year 7

  • Body language – non verbal communication of the body to show emotion.
  • Energy Levels – low level or high level. 
  • Pace – How fast or slow an actor moves.
  • Proxemics – how the stage space is used effectively to show something (i.e. relationships between characters).
  • Intonation – where the pitch goes up / down in a  sentence to convey meaning.
  • Volume – How loudly or softly you speak.
  • Tone - how the voice conveys emotion.
  • Freeze frame - a frozen scene on stage.
  • Improvise – create without preparation.
  • Monologue – a speech, spoken by one character.

Year 8

  • Gesture – an action of the body i.e. pointing a finger or tilting the head.
  • Posture – how a person carries themselves sitting or standing i.e. – shoulder back, chest out, chin up, feet together.
  • Facial expressions – how the face conveys emotion i.e. an angry face shows furrowed eyebrows, pursed lips, squinted eyes, scrunched nose and forehead
  • Pace – Speed of delivering dialogue.
  • Pitch – High or low voice.
  • Pause – used for effect.
  • Timing – considered carefully for effect.
  • Thought track- a character 'steps out' of a scene and reveals something to the audience that they are thinking.
  • Narration – the process of telling a story.
  • Blocking – the movements of an actor.

Year 9

  • Gait – how a character walks i.e. the Villain took big strides across the stage on tip toes lunging with his knees.
  • Body TensionHow relaxed or tense an actor's muscles are.
  • Poise – The way a character moves i.e gracefully.
  • Diction – informal / slang the way in which you pronounce words clearly.
  • Accent – shows where the character is from.
  • Emphasis – where a word or sound is exaggerated for effect.

  • Breaking the fourth wall – characters speak to the audience by breaking the imaginary wall between them.
  • Split stage - two or more scenes which are performed on stage at the same time.