Let's get serious;Primary;Reviews;Books;Music and the Arts

12th February 1999 at 00:00
DRAMA IN PRIMARY ENGLISH TEACHING. By Suzi Clipson-Boyles. David Fulton. pound;14.

Buy this and strap in for a serious ride. Drama in Primary English Teaching is definitely not for those browsing for a few tips. For Suzi Clipson-Boyles, drama - or what she dubs "New Wave drama" - is a "purposeful interactive language activity" and obviously a serious business. So serious, that a great deal of background and explanation is necessary before attempting it. International roles, interrogation strategies, operational skills are just a few of the things you need to know about before getting the chil-dren to find themselves a space.

Many of the examples reflect the tone of this book: kindness to others, environmental issues, the significance of marriage. Even the typeface and the layout are weighty matters, discouraging anything but the closest of reading, while the whole treatise is backed up with extracts from suitably heavy official documents.

Needless to say, the role of the school's drama co-ordinator (who, it is acknowledged, may also be the language co-ordinator) is no lightweight matter. A great many labours must be undertaken by this unfortunate to meet Clipson-Boyles's unbending criteria, including inducting new staff, organising theatre visits for pupils, staff and parents, modelling good practice, running drama in-service training and, of course, keeping up to date with and disseminating the latest from the New Wave. Just as well the National Literacy Strategy takes up so little time, then.

Inspectors have long been aware that drama does not have a strong presence in primary schools. Sadly, I doubt that this book, worthy enough in its mission, will convince over-stretched teachers that drama can be fun as well as purposeful and tempt them to have a go.

David Hornbrook David Hornbrook is arts inspector for the London borough of Camden

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