Drama at Ashlyns aims to produce creative thinkers who take a collaborative approach to produce high-quality pieces of theatre. Our curriculum encourages students to work both independently and in groups, through all key stages, learning and applying innovative techniques which explore both traditional and contemporary work.
Our curriculum enables students to discover their full potential, building charisma and confidence that will transfer to a number of other subjects. We encourage a positive working environment, where our students feel safe to express themselves in a creative forum and receive feedback that is both supportive and constructive in order to excel.
Key Stage 3
At KS3, the curriculum offers students the opportunity to improve their confidence and interpersonal skills through performing, at the same time as learning a variety of theatrical techniques by taking part in a diverse range of Schemes of Work.
We want to create an environment that will challenge pupils to think about a diverse range of themes and issues within their community and the wider world, exploring different styles of performance and the impact it can have on different audiences. It allows students the creative freedom to develop their imaginations and is also a lot of fun! In year 7, 8 and 9 students attend one drama lesson per week and students are assessed at the end of every half term on their core skills, such as; rehearsal, vocal skills, physical skills, characterisation and evaluation.
Year 7 is a fantastic opportunity for students to get to know each other, learn how to work as a team by developing collaborative skills and engage with exciting topics.The ‘Storytelling’ scheme lays the foundation of key dramatic skills and conventions. Students are introduced to basic drama techniques such as still images, thought tracks, narration, improvisation and flashbacks. Learning these techniques allows students to structure a piece of drama for their first assessment.
‘Pantomime’ allows students to look at a traditional British pastime which we accompany with an optional Theatre trip to see a local Pantomime just before Christmas. ‘Greek Theatre’ continues to develop student’s drama skills through working as an ensemble with both movement and voice. The scheme also allows students to find out the history of how theatre and plays began and study a traditional Greek Tragedy ‘Theseus and the Minatour’ or ‘Antigone’.
Year 7 also explores ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Evacuees’ which not only engages the students with script and character work, but gives the students opportunity to link Drama with events in History and emphasises the importance of empathy.
In Year 8, more skills, styles and genres are added to the students Drama Toolkit. Students explore different mediums of creating Drama and cover a range of new topics, including Melodrama, Hamlet, Blood Brothers, The Holocaust and Epic Theatre. These schemes of learning offer a broad insight into theatrical history and a range of styles of theatre that underpin the types of Drama we see today.
Students are expected to work at a higher level and use their initiative by adding conventions that will help to both support and embellish their ideas. By this point, we hope that Year 8 students will have developed confidence in their performance and collaborative skills by working well with other members in their form group. They must be able to share their appreciation for performance by being an effective analyst and evaluator of performance work.
By the end of Year 8, students should feel fully equipped to start devising their own pieces of theatre which will demonstrate their understanding of a range of styles and genres.
The Year 9 topics once again offer a well-rounded exploration into different strands of Drama. Students explore the works and methodologies of influential theatre practitioners associated with different styles of Theatre. These theatre styles range from ancient Commedia Dell’arte, Stanislavski to contemporary and current theatre practitioners such as Frantic Assembly and Kneehigh.
The aim of Year 9 is to also experience what it’s like to study GCSE Drama, looking at the two main practical elements of the course. First, students are given a range of stimuli and will devise their own piece of theatre over a number of weeks. They will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform it in front of an audience and receive feedback on their finished piece via the use of peer feedback. Finally Year 9 students will take scenes from page to stage, using their skills and knowledge to perform substantial scripted performances at the end of the year.
Key Stage 4
GCSE Drama EDEXCEL Specification
GCSE drama at Ashlyns is designed to unlock the use of imagination, intellect, empathy and courage. Through the study of the subject; ideas, responses and feelings can be expressed and communicated and whilst a largely practical subject it is an intellectual discipline requiring academic focus. It is through engagement in drama; students apply their imaginations and draw upon their own personal experiences. Their increasing knowledge and understanding of how the elements of drama work and enables students to effectively shape, express and share ideas, feelings and responses to various projects.
GCSE classes are mixed ability and follow the Edexcel GCSE course. Throughout this exciting course, pupils have the opportunity to be assessed as performers, writers, directors, designers and theatre observers. Students are encouraged to work independently outside of lessons on performance work to ensure the highest grades possible are achieved. GCSE Drama students also have the opportunity to visit professional productions both locally and in London’s West End to enhance their understanding of theatre, which is just one of the highlights of this course. Students doing GCSE Drama attend 5 drama lessons per fortnight.
Component 1: Devising
The focus of this component is to understand the importance of creating an original piece of Drama and develop an appreciation for the skills needed to
work as a theatre company. Students are given a range of stimuli chosen by the teachers. They are tasked with selecting the most appropriate stimulus and forming ideas on how they can use this as a basis to create their own piece of theatre. The stimuli range from prose and poetry to photographs, installations, film clips and music. Alongside the devised performance, students must produce a portfolio to support the process and document the journey from stimulus to polished performance.
Component 2: Text in Performance
Students will take part in a performance of two extracts from a published performance text. This performance can be alone or in small groups and is marked by a visiting examiner from Edexcel. We offer a broad range of texts to suit each student’s preferred style and challenge them to try something new. Students are tasked with completing a short document that helps the examiner to understand their thought processes in interpreting a text.
Component 3: Theatre Makers in Practice
The written component of the course is split into two sections. For Section A, students write about a set text that they have explored in practical workshops. They will develop a thorough and rigorous understanding of the play over the course of the two years in order to be fully prepared for the demands of the exam. Section A has a total of five questions which require a mixture of short and medium and longer length answers. For Section B, students will be asked to analyse and evaluate a live theatre production using subject specific terminology.
Key Stage 5
A Level Drama and Theatre – EDEXCEL Specification
The A Level course is an exciting blend of practical exploration, text study, devising and performance. The course aims to furnish students with not only a wide range of practical skills, but also with the academic understanding to support them. Students will have the chance to develop acting skills, with options to explore design and technical skills as well. They will also deepen their knowledge of Theatre Practitioners, a wide variety of classical and contemporary plays and performance styles. This course offers a spectrum of skills which are highly transferable to many career paths.
Over the course of the two years, students will complete three components, including:
Component 1: Devising (40% of the qualification 80 marks)
Overview: Students will devise an original performance piece using an extract from a performance textas a stimulus, in the style of a chosen theatre practitioner. Students will also produce a working portfolio which documents and analysis the journey of creating theatre.
Component 2: Theatre Text in Performance (20% of the qualification 60 marks)
Overview: Students will perform in a group performance of one key extract from a performance text. In addition, students will perform a monologue or duologue performance from one key extract from a different performance text.This is marked by a visiting examiner from Edexcel.
Component 3: Theatre Makers in Practice (Written examination: 2 hours 30 minutes 40% of the qualification 80 marks)
Overview: Students will write a live theatre evaluation of a performance they have seen responding to a set argument about theatre. Students will explore two complete texts – focusing on how they can be realised for performance – and how they could be reimagined for a contemporary audience.
Learning Beyond the Classroom
We run a variety of exciting extra-curricular clubs including Games for Actor and Non Actors, Musical Theatre Club and Key Stage Theatre Companies, Improv and Comedy Club. Students are encouraged to see as much theatre as possible in order to fully embrace all that Drama has to offer; we therefore offer a number of theatre trips to see a wide range of productions. GCSE and A Level Drama and Theatre students are required to see a piece of live theatre as part of the course. The most exciting event of the year is the bi annual Whole School Musical where we see our talented students take to the stage and perform.
At Ashlyns, we believe that the development of students’ love of learning is of central importance in our curriculum. In order to give students every opportunity to develop this, we have developed a Challenge Curriculum which provides the opportunity for students to enhance their learning across the subjects. The activities contained within the Challenge Curriculum are for students to undertake independently, and take lots of forms, including watching films or clips, visiting museums, conducting independent research, listening to podcasts, and watching lectures online. They are by no means exhaustive, and we encourage all activities that enable students to engage with subjects beyond the classroom and further their learning. Students should let their teachers know which activities they have completed, and are able to earn merits for doing so.