The pursuit of Drama and Acting at Alderbrook School is considered an activity worthy of great dedication in its own right, but also as a vitally important vehicle to nurture the creativity, passion and individuality of each child at our school. Artistic endeavour encourages our student body to be inquisitive, spirited and inventive and in doing so enlivens and complements the academic life of the school in a very special way.
Alderbrook has built up a respected reputation for Drama teaching over the last 10 years within the region. We have built excellent relationships with feeder schools, provided support to other secondary school departments, have successful partnerships with local ITT programmes, and take part in National competitions and initiatives. The department therefore, although small, seeks to have a wide impact across the school.
The Drama Department aims to:
- Produce work of the highest standard which the whole school can celebrate
- Promote knowledge and understanding of theatre as an art form
- Equip pupils with the necessary drama skills and techniques to be successful
- Create opportunities for pupils to observe professional work
- Develop pupils’ expressive and interpersonal skills
- Broaden pupils’ use of literacy
The curriculum at Alderbrook is based on an understanding that Drama is an art form with a discrete body of knowledge including conventions, history, skills and methods of working. Drama also fosters an understanding of continuity and change, and of the connections between different times and cultures. Learning experiences in Drama are provided which involve the intellect, emotions, imagination and body, and engage the whole person. Self-confidence, motivation and self-esteem are developed through the devising, workshopping, rehearsing and performing of individual and collaborative works. Here at Alderbrook, we have designed a curriculum that hopes to merge all aspects of the subject together, so that students reap the rewards, of not only the development of the whole person but also, equally important, the academic.
Our Year 7 and 8 Curriculum draws on the contemporary drama and theatre practice of creating, performing and reflecting on drama. These practices are active, experiential, critical and reflective. Our Year 9 – 11 Curriculum is of course influenced and guided by the current examination pathway – AQA GCSE Expressive Arts (Drama and Original Writing).
The Drama Department is housed primarily within a modern purpose built Arts Centre, ‘The Edge’. It houses a black box theatre (The Gantry), changing rooms, an ICT suite, costume store, box office, foyer and bar area, and dance studio. Drama also makes use of another studio in the Main school building, along with Malley Hall.
2014/15 Staffing is comprised of:
Mrs A. Allen – Curriculum Leader for Drama
Mrs D. Stocks – Teacher of Drama
Mr J. Fennell – ‘The Edge’ Technician
Key Stage 3
Year 7 pupils receive a fortnightly, one hour Drama lesson, in mixed ability groups. The curriculum content, delivery and assessment format is adapted from the standards required at Level 4 of the Drama Level Descriptors as found in “Drama in Schools” and focuses on the development of Drama skills in the following areas – Creating, Performing and Reflecting. Topics of work explore a variety of basic drama techniques, using play texts such as ‘Oliver Twist’ and fictional settings as stimuli.
Year 8 pupils receive a weekly, one hour Drama lesson, in mixed ability groups. The curriculum content, delivery and assessment format is adapted from the standards required at Level 5 of the Drama Level Descriptors as found in “Drama in Schools” and focuses on the development of Drama and Acting skills. Topics of work cover distinct areas of the art form such as mastering the art of performing with mime Trestle Theatre Masks or Slapstick comedy, how to use scripted text as a stimulus or thematic work based on Anne Frank and World War II, or the Salem Witch Trials. By the end of Year 8, those students who do not opt to study the subject at a higher level, cease to receive Drama lessons.
Key Stage 4
Students opt to study Drama at GCSE by the beginning of Year 9. These students receive two hours of Drama training per week. They attend these lessons in mixed ability groups. Year 9 is an important foundation year for Years 10 and 11 when students follow the current GCSE pathway. Alderbrook currently delivers AQA GCSE Expressive Arts (Drama & Original Writing).
The emphasis of the Year 9 course is on creativity, practical performance, understanding the history and development of the art form and overall enjoyment. Assessment is based on the GCSE grading criteria and topics of work include:
1) Living Improvisation – Teacher in Role ‘Warden X’
2) Exploring thematic work – Prejudice. The ‘Stephen Lawrence’ Legacy
3) History of Drama – Comedy ‘A Day at the Beach’
4) Devising from Stimuli – ‘Desert Survival’
5) Exploring Tension and Monologue – The ‘Hillsborough’ Disaster examined
6) History of Drama – ‘Commedia dell’arte’ Mask Work
7) Devising a Performance Project / Staging a Short Production
Year 10 and 11 students must follow the prescribed course content for the Expressive Arts GCSE:
Unit 1: 40 % Examination Presentation (42601)
This is a practical response to a stimulus/theme from a paper set by AQA and is completed in the Spring of Year 11. Following a preliminary preparation period, students have 15 hours to produce a short play. The assessment of the Examination Presentation takes account of candidates’ working processes (written portfolio) and their final presentation (play). This is externally set and marked.
Unit 2: 60 % Controlled Assessment (42602)
Candidates complete 2 tasks, each with a weighting of 30%. One task is completed in Year 10, with another started but completed by the Christmas of Year 11. Each task requires candidates to study the work of practitioners (works of art), the connections between them and write this up into 2 different 1000 word essays. Candidates develop, script and present their own written short plays. They are required to reflect on and to analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of their practical work in a written portfolio. Internally assessed and externally moderated.
The Drama Department has a busy extra-curricular schedule throughout the academic year. Opportunities are provided for all students across the year groups.
Year 7 – afterschool Drama Bronze Arts Award. Year 7 students have the opportunity to take part in the National Arts Award Qualification.
Year 8 – lunchtime skills club. Year 8 students have the opportunity to work with older students in this ‘fun’ club to improve their performance skills.
Year 10 & 11 – afterschool GCSE Coursework support. An opportunity for students to use school facilities and have the guidance of their teacher.
Stage Crew – Students from all Year groups can learn about the technical demands of using Lighting, Sound, Pyrotechnics, Staging. Students are then recruited for productions, performances, assemblies and whole school events.
There is usually one major ‘whole school’ production in collaboration with both the Dance and Music departments. This takes place in our largest performing space – Malley Hall. There is also a range of smaller KS3, KS4 or G&T productions which take place throughout the school year in The Gantry Theatre. Please see the area of the school website for more information on upcoming and past productions.
We are proud of the varied enrichment trips, both day, evening and residential, that we provide for our students throughout the busy school calendar. We have a strong ethos in the department that centres around students seeing varied professional work regularly, as well as being able to take part in professional workshops. We believe these experiences have a lasting impact on our students and, inspire and improve the quality of their work within the classroom.
Recent past trips have included:
USA Tour of San Francisco and Los Angeles – 8 Day Tour, 40 pupils, KS4
‘Comedy of Errors’ RSC Day Workshop – 30 pupils, Year 10
Blood Brothers – Hippodrome, 40 pupils, KS3, 4 & 5
Matilda A Musical – RSC Stratford, 40 pupils, Year 7
London – 2 Day Tour, 40 pupils, KS4
Highly Sprung Company Workshop – 60 pupils, Year 10
The Kite Runner – REP Birmingham, 40 pupils, KS4
Many students from Alderbrook go on to study Drama or Acting at University, and some are successful in auditioning for the highly competitive UK Drama Schools. Past students end up in a variety of different jobs. We have students who are now working as professional actors on stage and in Film/TV. Others work in touring theatre companies and deliver workshops in educational settings. Some have gone onto to do their PGCE and are now qualified teachers. One or two decided to work backstage. There are many possibilities. Below, details possible future career paths.
Theatre – actor / director / stage manager / front of house / education officer / props manager / lighting technician / set designer / tour manager
Film & TV – actor / presenter / director / producer / sound production / writer / location manager / casting / camera / editor / marketing & PR / stunt performer
Radio – presenter / station manager / producer / programmer controller / editor / broadcast journalist / reporter / researcher
OR set up your own touring Theatre in Education Company with friends that you meet, become a Youth Theatre leader, specialise in Puppetry, Physical Theatre, Street Performing, Animation Voice Overs, become an Agent for performers, Theatre Critic or Arts Journalist, teacher… the list is endless!
Contact the Head of Department
For further information, please contact Mrs Anna Allen