A need for creative thinking

22nd November 2002 at 00:00
Drama is a creative and cultural art form with an associated methodology, yet suffers from lack of subject status in the national curriculum and remains officially confined as an aspect of English.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) will publish Teaching Speaking, Listening and Drama at KS1, 2 and 3 next summer. This should strengthen drama within English. Subject associations in English - but not drama - have been involved in writing the materials. Fortunately, the writers include joint members of National Drama and the National Association for the Teaching of English. National Drama will offer regional workshop support for teachers on translating the document into practice.

The QCA pilot materials, Creativity: Find it, Promote it! are presently being trialled. Drama is used across a range of subjects within the lesson exemplars. Teaching "for and with creativity" through drama has professional development implications if it is to be disseminated with understanding. This may link to Creative Partnerships' intended recruitment of advanced skills teachers of Creativity and the Arts, which will include primary drama specialists.

The Arts Council of England (ACE) recently commissioned a rewrite of Drama in Schools (to be published next summer). Several writers of the first report are involved again. That publication received a mixed response from drama educators, as it focused heavily on aspects of theatre and performance and did not sufficiently recognise or promote drama process in education and learning. It is to be hoped that the next version will embrace both seamlessly. Drama educators and theatre professionals each have a different function and purpose in relation to children's learning and these are linked and significant. National Drama has been invited by ACE to advise the writers.

It is every pupil's right to be taught drama at KS1, 2 and 3, but many schools provide only the Christmas play and drama strategies in English, with no regular drama lessons taught by specialists. There are few specialist drama teachers and many English teachers are not trained in drama.

Primary drama escapes routine inspection by Ofsted. There is no subject inspection training and primary English subject reports often do not mention drama. Inspectors have the right to be trained in what they may inspect just as teachers have the right to be trained in what they are expected to teach.

Drama is a brain-friendly, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic medium. Its methodology is used increasingly by non-specialist teachers who are not necessarily developing drama itself. Thinking skills, philosophy for children, circle time and so on are taught well, using drama strategies and forms. All teachers and pupils would benefit from a greater cohesive and informed understanding of drama - as art form, as learning medium and as a discrete subject, within one official curriculum document.

We require a move towards a new and visionary drama curriculum. England's drama practitioners lead on drama educational practice worldwide but are prophets at bay in their own country.

Patrice Baldwin is Advisory and Support Services Officer for National Drama. For further information, visit www.nationaldrama.co.uk

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