A student's perspective: why downgrading GCSE drama is absurd

13th July 2015 at 16:18

Downgrading drama as a GCSE, as the government seems intent on doing, is absurd. If you want to downgrade anything, you should choose subjects such as English language and literature, history and anything else you might believe is better placed than drama to offer young people valuable skills that will broaden their futures.

I spent two years studying drama GCSE and it has been by far my most beneficial subject. This is the part where I apologise to other subjects. Sorry, but it's true.

Sadly, I have to admit that before beginning the two-year course I shared the ignorant mindset of drama’s current critics. I believed that drama would lead me to an easy "A" and I just had to act. I was wrong.

The easy "A" I wanted required hard work. As part of my journey towards that goal, I have discovered many skills that complement subjects such as history and English. I have learned different writing styles, picked up knowledge of historical contexts and developed an incredibly broad range of valuable abilities, such as time management, leadership skills and creative thinking. The benefits of drama even impacted on my Spanish GCSE, as I learned to be more confident in the speaking part of my coursework.

I studied drama two days a week for three hours in total. My classmates and I always said it was the best part of the day. Surely you wouldn’t want to deflate a young person’s enthusiasm for learning, especially at a crucial age when they are overwhelmed with exams?

Obviously, subjects can’t appeal to everyone – I don't like PE, for example. But I honestly wouldn’t want PE to be downgraded because other people do enjoy it, just like drama or music. Moreover, studying these subjects at GCSE helps students decide what they want to do in the future. Having taken drama, I can now make an informed decision as to whether to pursue theatre studies at AS-level.

Everyone is entitled to a choice. Don’t deprive young people of the choice to study a subject they love because of your "opinions" – for that is all that the evidence to justify the attack on drama amounts to.

Amina Yussuf has just taken her GCSEs in north London.

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