The curriculum from KS3 onwards is based on development of knowledge, understanding and skills that are linked to BTEC level 2 and 3 performing arts. This includes the development of knowledge of the industry as well as skills and techniques in rehearsal, performance, design and devising. These disciplines are taught through a wide range of topics that:
- inspire and challenge all students;
- provide a wide range of opportunities for working independently and also collaborating with others;
- provide a wide range of opportunities for developing knowledge of careers;
- provide a broad, balanced and engaging curriculum for all;
- provide opportunities which develop depth and application of knowledge, skills, independence, resilience, literacy and challenge;
- provide opportunities to apply knowledge and understanding in practical contexts;
- build on prior skills and knowledge to prepare students for the next stage in their learning;
- provide opportunities for developing confidence in creative expression.
Every scheme of work includes the development of practical skills, in addition to the development of knowledge and understanding of theatre styles and practitioners.
Students initially develop their knowledge and understanding of rehearsal techniques. This is vital to their success in this subject as these techniques are then used throughout the rest of their school careers. They are then expected to apply these in practical contexts in lessons. The first topic is a cross-curricular scheme in conjunction with music and is around musical theatre. Students in Year 7 learn the ensemble parts for the school production and are invited to take on roles and participate in the performances that take place just before the winter break.
During the spring term, students develop a basic understanding of the theatre industry. This includes exploring the variety of roles involved in creating a piece of live theatre. As part of this topic, students are given the opportunity to attend a live performance, usually at one of the theatres in Nottingham or Derby. The play that is the focus of the trip is used as a case study throughout this topic. For spring 2022, students will be offered the opportunity to see “Private Peaceful” live in Nottingham and this will be the case study for the scheme of work. This project also gives the students the opportunity to complete the Explore Arts Award.
During the summer term, students complete two schemes of work. The first focuses on design in theatre with emphasis on the puppetry skills used in War Horse. Students develop their knowledge of design and its importance in live theatre and then go on to create their own puppets. The final scheme of work for the summer term is based on devising their own short pieces of theatre based on modernising myths and legends. This is linked to a topic that Year 7 explore in English earlier in the year. It allows students to begin to develop their understanding of the devising process and to create their own short sketches to be assessed.
Year 8 begins with a scheme of work around design. In this topic students explore gothic and supernatural design with a focus on costume, hair and makeup. This builds on their understanding of design established in Year 7 but allows them to apply this to different contexts. In the second half of the autumn term, students complete a scheme of work on crime and punishment with a focus on developing their knowledge and understanding of the genre. They then apply this in a practical context through devised work, again building on the skills first establishes in Year 7.
In the spring term, students explore performance from a text through the Shakespeare play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. This text is also studied in English, however in drama the focus turns to portrayal of the selected scenes through use of physical and vocal acting skills. In the second part of the spring term, the scheme of work focuses on improvisation. In this, students focus specifically on this important rehearsal technique developing their understanding and skill throughout the remainder of the half term.
In the final term of Year 8, students further develop their knowledge of the theatre industry and are again given an opportunity to see a play live. This is used as a case study for students to develop their understanding of the roles and responsibilities associated with live theatre. This project also gives the students the opportunity to complete the Bronze Arts Award.
During the first term, students will explore the play “Blood Brothers” which is also studied in English. In drama lessons, students will build on their knowledge and understanding of the use of rehearsal techniques to explore a selection of scenes in depth. This enables students to establish a thorough understanding of the characters and their motivations, whilst further developing essential practical skills.
In the spring term, the focus shifts to the play “Noughts and Crosses”. In this scheme of work, students will build on their knowledge of design established in Years 7 and 8, however in this topic the focus is on set design and lighting. Students are encouraged to think creatively to design and build models of their own sets.
The final topic in Year 9 encourages students to devise their own pieces of drama in the style of Theatre in Education. Students initially explore the features of this style before then being given different stimuli to use as a starting point for creating ideas. These stimuli are linked to current social issues that are relevant to this age group. For example, the use of social media or environmental issues.
Years 10 and 11
At KS4 students complete the BTEC Level 1/2 Tech Award in Performing Arts. The level 2 is equivalent to a standard GCSE. There are three components to this course.
Component 1 is an internally assessed unit and involves students developing their understanding of the performing arts by examining practitioners’ work and the processes used to create performance. This is worth 30% of the overall qualification.
Component 2 is also internally assessed and involves students developing their performing arts skills and techniques through the reproduction of acting, dance and/or musical theatre repertoire as performers or designers. This is worth 30% of the overall qualification.
Component 3 is externally assessed with work being sent directly to the exam board for assessment. In this component students will be given the opportunity to work as part of a group to contribute to a workshop performance as either a performer or designer in response to a given brief and stimulus. The brief is produced by the exam board and is released in January each year. This is worth 40% of the overall qualification.
In Year 10, students initially focus on components 1 and 2. They explore two different productions, learning about the creative roles and processes involved in putting on a production whilst also developing their own performance skills and techniques linked to these productions. The productions that are studied will change each year as it is the aim that one of these will be one that is available for the students to see live. Past productions that have been studied include the West End production of “The Lion King” and “Too Much Punch for Judy”. In January, focus shifts to component 3 as the brief is released by the exam board. Students initially develop the knowledge and skills required for this unit before completing the assessment in groups. This work is submitted to the exam board in May as a first attempt at this component. In the final term of Year 10, focus returns to components 1 and 2 with students revisiting the work they completed in the first term and also studying a third production.
Year 11 is entirely focussed on building on the work done in Year 10. Students will have had the results of component 3 from the exam board and this is an opportunity to reflect on their achievements and for many to improve the marks they have been awarded. They will also revisit their work on components 1 and 2, submitting it to their teacher for final assessment. In January of this year, the students are given another brief for component 3 of the course to then work on and submit by May. This is a second attempt at this unit and many students see improvements in their end results.