Drama in crisis over assistants

22nd November 2002 at 00:00
NATIONAL Drama, the largest professional association of drama educators in the UK, is angered and dismayed at the recent leaked Green Paper proposal that "enhanced skills" classroom support assistants might be expected to cover drama as part of their work.

The whole notion demonstrates a staggering lack of understanding from the Department for Education and Skills, as to what drama in education involves and its learning potential, both as an art form and as a powerful creative teaching and learning medium.

It also an insult to undervalued and skilled drama educators. This may be an expedient way of addressing teacher shortage and overload but it has little to do with education or standards.

It moves the arts still further away from creative teachers in order that they might do more administration. This could backfire in relation to teacher retention with increased numbers of innovative and imaginative teachers leaving.

What mixed messages are now evolving, in relation to the value placed by this Government on drama and arts in education generally, at a time when the Creative Partnerships initiative and creativity across the curriculum are being promoted?

Are we to assume that teachers will have less and less to do with the arts at a time when more and more is being voiced loudly about creativity in education? Will drama be delivered during the school day from a box of support materials or will it be sold as the after-school slot and double as fun childcare led by the under-trained?

The DfES should stop putting drama under the curriculum rug. What we need now is a real drama subject curriculum. We need to train teachers to teach it, support staff to support it and train inspectors to inspect it.

Patrice Baldwin

Advisory and support services officer

National Drama

West Barn, Church Farm

Happisburgh

Norwich, Norfolk

TES Teacher, 32

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