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drama overview 


At the heart of drama is the development of personal skills in all students; engagement, communication, creative imagination, clarity of expression, autonomy, leadership confidence and cooperation. There is more to drama than being able to perform on stage. Opportunities are embedded for students to be able to hone and develop performance talent, but equally important is the ability to understand the purpose of the theatre we create. Methodologies of theatrical practitioners and genres are introduced throughout the key stages to enable students not only to ‘re-enact’ but to shape their own unique ideas with a greater understanding of the need for style, intention, theatrical form and to learn to celebrate individual and different perspectives.

Drama activities encourage pupils to engage with their emotions and intellect, expressing their thoughts and feelings through voice and movement in an imagined context. Aylsham High School drama is dedicated to nurturing confidence, imagination and creativity within our students.


Drama is not a discrete curriculum area in England, although from Key Stage 1 through to Key Stage 4, drama is taught within the English curriculum as part of the speaking and listening element (en1).

Drama enhances everything else on the school curriculum. Drama improves literacy and vocabulary. It exposes students to different themes and perspectives. It hones critical, analytical and problem solving skills.

Our drama curriculum is fluid and adaptable to meet the ever-changing needs of our young people. Students are provided with a rich and dynamic extra-curricular drama provision often beyond the confines of the school site. Each term students are taught topics that cover Theatre styles (including theatre history), play-texts, Issue based drama (sometimes including specific texts and stimuli and Theatre Practitioners). Each scheme has a knowledge and skill focus. Students can take part in productions, workshops, specialist training onsite (LAMDA), theatre visits and see in-house productions from professional theatre companies. We celebrate diversity through our drama provision and by developing confidence and communication skills we seek to narrow-the-gap and raise attainment and achievement of those with additional needs. All opportunities are inclusive and specialist provision is accommodated for where necessary.


We believe that drama can improve social tolerance, create positive social change and foster emotional intelligence. The narrative of performances can bring to life the most dramatic yet distressing issues that human beings experience. By studying these topics in a safe environment, students can access unfamiliar emotions, even more effectively than when reading stories. The study of drama ultimately leads to documented improved academic performance for all of our students in every other subject (Jægar, M. M., & Møllegarrd, S. 2017). Co-operative learning practices underpin all we do within the drama department; we believe that the self-awareness, confidence and analytical approach these practices foster, impacts across the curriculum and students’ lives.

We provide innovative, engaging and challenging programmes of study for all students, across a range of abilities, at Key Stag 3 and 4. We assess the students within a variety of different ways; both practically and theoretically. We track their progress all the way through the key stages using a dialogic feedback system and embedded assessment objectives that remain throughout the different stages. We have committed, caring and highly trained staff. Our staff are actively engaged with the Arts and are committed to offering our students up-to-date experiences.

We have embedded the principles of personalised learning taxonomies (Blooms) throughout the curriculum, focusing on pupils’ specific needs. We encourage autonomy throughout drama, encouraging students to be proactive, responsible and creative leaders.

Knowledge – We ensure our students are engaging with drama practice based on strong contemporary and historical understanding. Our students are academically challenged through arts theory and practice.

Comprehension – Our practice embodies co-operative learning strategies allowing students to share with their peers regularly to ensure comprehension of task and topic application – Every element of our drama curriculum celebrates praxis; applying theory, practice, confidence and creativity in order to bring about development.

Analysis – We encourage students to analyse their own, peer and practitioner, practice and theory at every stage across KS3 & 4.

Synthesis – We challenge our students through encouraging and making synthesis accessible through application of skills.

Evaluation – All students are expected to evaluate their and others work through the use of ‘What Went Well' and ‘Even Better If’ at KS3. In year 8 and at KS4 students evaluate through verbal and written forms both informally and formally throughout their course.

Curriculum review

The Key Stage 3 drama curriculum is reviewed annually within the drama department. Experience of delivering the schemes to different groups is shared; any learning is then captured by the head of drama and in turn applied to the schemes. The drama department also shares and evaluates teaching experiences of using additional resources and methods. The schemes evolve over time and any significant changes will be communicated with parents and students via SIMS.

Enrichment drama

Enrichment opportunities in drama are created to allow students to develop and build on expertise learnt in lessons. Clubs and activities are varied to allow all students to participate in an area of interest. Alongside weekly Drama Clubs are opportunities for students to audition to be part of productions with more challenging expectations. Students involved in Aylsham High School productions are met with the expectation that all cast members develop performance talent and professionalism. These clubs/events are not only to encourage enjoyment in the arts but also for students to learn about professional expectations and performance discipline. In year 11, Students are also able to apply to become a Drama Captain, taking on a leadership role within the department and developing their own knowledge by planning and delivering Drama Club sessions.

preparing for drama at key stage 3 

Drama contributes to the learning process in a unique way. Its uniqueness lies in its immediacy. Drama happens in the here and now. It allows pupils a high degree of self-management over their own learning where they make decisions, solve problems, or choose not to resolve situations. It allows pupils to manage their own knowledge and experience of the world and then extend it creatively and imaginatively. It engages feelings and encourages empathy with other characters whose lives pupils are examining within the drama process.

Before starting a drama lesson, the studio is prepared in order to create an appropriate space for the activities. Students are then prepared for active learning by using some warm-up activities. The warm up activities are also fundamental in the development of a safe learning environment, setting boundaries and learning expectations, spatial and self-awareness, communication skills and confidence.

At Key Stage 3, young people should have opportunities to use dramatic skills appropriate to audience, context, purpose and task.

Curriculum mapping year 7

In the Autumn Term work will centre on an introduction to drama including communication, movement, mime and physicality. Students experience basic script work and stage craft. A story of a man born just before World War Two is used as a stimulus to further generate opportunities for character development, learning about the historical context and the implications of old age. A quote from King Lear is also examined and integrated into the final devised scene.

Later in the autumn term we explore a scheme of work based on a haunted house ‘Darkwood Manor’. The students experience investigative work in role and work with the teacher in role. It is a magical spooky journey as the plot unfolds and various theatrical conventions and special effects are explored to create dramatic tension.

In the spring term physical performance confidence will be developed through exploration of slapstick skills and stage combat. Physical Theatre is then explored through the abstract imagery created by The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol. Students are also shown inspiring extracts of physical performance by Frantic Assembly.

Later in the spring term Roald Dahl’s revolting rhymes are used as a poetic stimulus to creating drama. Physical theatre is further explored to include tableau, mime, choral movement and speaking.

By the summer term students will be able to combine these key skills and utilise them when working on improvisations, devised work and script based around Harry Potter. Acting physical and vocal skills are explored in more detail as students experiment with characterisation. Soundscapes, though tracking and working with split scenes are also incorporated into this work.

Later in the summer term students explore improvisation techniques and draw from their prior knowledge and skills to create, perform and then further learn from evaluating the work.

Curriculum mapping year 8

Now that students have the basic toolkit of drama they will move on to develop these skills to a more detailed level and explore more advanced themes and issues.

In the autumn term work focusses on exploring investigative and suspect roles around a dramatic murder mystery.

Students explore the themes and characters from A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens). They devise work based on the staves: the first stage setting the scene, the middle stage showing the turning point for Scrooge and the final stage concluding the story by presenting him as a changed man. Students draw from their prior learning of drama techniques and develop characters, dialogues and scenes to suit the dramatisation of the plot.

Later in the autumn term we focus on King Lear: Shakespeare's great tragedy, the story of Lear's fall from power after dividing his kingdom and subsequently being betrayed by his three daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. This work incorporates, developing characters, characterisation and working with Shakespearian scripts.  

In the spring term students will spend time working on Pantomime and understanding new performance strategies with its roots in Commedia dell’Arte, a 16th century Italian entertainment which uses dance, music, acrobatics and stock characters.

In the summer term students will then focus on a play by Harold Pinter ‘A Night Out’, set in the 1950’s, gaining insight into historical and social/domestic issues. We then move on to a monologue from ‘Two’ by Jim Cartwright, its focus is on an old northern woman feeling trapped as the sole carer for her husband. Issues of status, identity, relationships, expectations and mental health are sensitively explored. The aim is that by the end of Year 8 students can not only apply the skills but understand why they have selected certain strategies and what their purpose is. Students should also have developed confidence in order to create work themselves and offer personal ideas and opinions.

Later in the summer term students explore improvisation techniques and draw from their prior knowledge and skills to create, perform and then further learn from evaluating the work.

In Year 8 they can opt to take GCSE drama from year 9.

Drama conventions/techniques/methods:

Year 7

Students will develop their KNOWLEDGE of how to use and create work using the following conventions/techniques/methods:

Movement –

  •  still image, tableau, freeze-frame
  • Physical theatre (body as prop, morphing/transitions, unison, mirroring, shadowing, mime, mask work)
  • use physical theatre to tell a story
  • mime and gesture
  • ensemble
  • facial expression
  • body language
  • slapstick
  • stage combat
  • Choral movement
  • Unison and Canon

Voice –

  • thought tracking
  • choral speaking/unison/ensemble
  • soundscape/collages
  •  voice for character (volume, pace, pitch, tone, repetition/echo, articulation)
  • sharing ideas: discuss, question, negotiate, compromise, collaborate


  • Improvisation and devised drama
  • characters from simple scripts: move, think, speak in role
  •  hot seating
  • teacher/student in role/collective role
  • role play
  • tension
  • simple script writing
  • develop character using voice, movement, gestures and facial expression

Stagecraft –

  • use drama strategies/conventions
  • engage with a range of stimuli to develop critical and creative thinking and work
  • staging/levels/positioning/blocking/ lines of sight
  • use lighting/music/sound/movement to create mood
  • use simple costume, props, set to enhance work

Students will develop their SKILLS in-

  • group work
  • leadership/directing
  • active listening
  • verbal evaluation and review
  • basic analysis i.e. giving reasons and explanations when offering ideas or evaluating work
  • Explaining options: weigh up pros and cons (thinking, problem solving, decision making)
  • using drama terminology when creating or evaluating work
  • audience awareness
  • Rehearsal skills/use of/time/space/prop/set/costumes

Year 8

Building on year 7s drama skills and knowledge. Year 8 students will develop their KNOWLEDGE of how to use and create work using the following conventions/strategies/threshold concepts:

Movement –

  • still image (showing status, 360 degree)
  • physical theatre (Fixed point, split focus)
  • Choral, unison, canon

Voice –

  • narration
  • stepping out of role (alienation and direct address)
  • choral work
  • Distortions and special effects

Characterisation –

  • creating from a stimulus
  • stereotypes
  • monologues
  • Devising scripts
  • Developing character backstories

Stagecraft –

  • conscience alley
  • Use specific drama vocabulary for staging, positions, style, drama conventions/strategies

Students will develop their SKILLS in:

  • basic analysis i.e. giving reasons and explanations when offering ideas and evaluating work
  • group work
  • leadership/directing
  • active listening
  • verbal and written evaluation of self and others
  • using drama terminology when creating or evaluating work
  • communication with an audience using eye contact and projection
  • Staying in role

drama gcse 

Students will develop their KNOWLEDGE of how to use and create work using the following conventions:

  • Movement (Proxemics, Marking the moment, physical theatre, slow motion)
  • Voice (narration as characters, volume and projection, accent and dialect, applying voice to a character)
  • Characterisation (contrasting characters, rhythm for characters, naturalistic/non-naturalistic techniques)
  • Stagecraft (use of props – minimalist and multi-use, use of form – abstract and naturalism)
  • Theatre history, genre, practitioners

N.B. This knowledge is in addition to the development of their Year 8 movement, voice, characterisation and stagecraft knowledge, which will now be explored at a more advanced level.

Students will develop their SKILLS in:

  • group work
  • leadership / directing
  • active listening
  • using drama terminology when creating or evaluating work
  • audience awareness
  •  verbal and written analysis/evaluation and assessment of self and others
  • communication with an audience using eye contact and projection
  • staying in role

Drama students learn physical theatre and need to be able to move freely.  They wear GCSE drama T-shirts, which can be ordered at the start of the course, and purchased for £8 via parent pay. Black leggings or joggers should also be worn: no shorts or skirts. Students are permitted to wear their drama clothes for drama lessons and during form and break times. They must travel to and from school in their school uniform.

Drama curriculum - an overview year 

Students will learn all the basic skills and conventions of drama through a variety of topics and resources. At Key Stage 3, pupils use tableau, freeze frame, hot seating, thought tracking, physical theatre and conscience alley as well as other strategies. These develop their creativity and extend their learning through a practical and active experience in the classroom. The curriculum sequence provides a logical progression which allows students to build their knowledge and skills. Current schemes are varied in order to provide variety and engagement, as well as addressing each area of the GCSE assessment criteria on a basic level.

Curriculum overview 2.5 hrs per week for 5-6 weeks bi-annually.  



Curriculum Intent/Aims

Curriculum Implementation/Content

Key skills and knowledge: Creating and Performing

Curriculum Impact/Delivery/Assessment

Key skills and knowledge: Responding

Year 7

In Year 7 pupils develop a range of skills through the medium of drama. They learn how to express themselves creatively, perform confidently, understand commitment to their role and to others and develop life-long social skills such as cooperation and communication.

Through role-play they explore their own beliefs and opinions whilst developing understanding and empathy towards others. Pupils also learn about the history of theatre and how to enjoy drama and theatre as an art form, through many stimuli including scripts and the appreciation of the work of others.

The 4Cs – creativity, communication, commitment and confidence is promoted throughout the units, which run for 5-6 weeks bi-annually.

By creating, performing and responding, students are demonstrating knowledge and understanding.

  • Introduction to drama

  • Spontaneous


  • History of storytelling and drama - Ritual and Myths

  • Styles and Genres

  • Mime, Physical



  • Text and Inference skills

  • Role Play

  • Still Imaging

  • Thought tracking

  • Marking the Moment

  • Soundscape

  •  Mime

  • Gesture

  • Facial Expression

  • Movement

  • Spatial awareness

  •  Choral work

  •  Narration

  • Characterisation

  • Basic script work

  • Explorative strategies

  •  Introduction to



All previous experience of drama is relevant but not essential. Even if drama is new to them, they will have transferable life skills and experiences that will help them and others learn in drama.

Learning intent is set out at each stage of the activities. The learning intentions and success criteria are explained and discuss: what the pupils are going to learn about and what they should be aiming toward to be successful.

After the first lesson, previously learning is recapped and reviewed. Further learning is then connected to previous learning where appropriate.

Questions will often include:

What part of the activity did you find most challenging?

What key learning points from this activity will be useful in the future?

How does using this/these drama method(s) help you express your thoughts and opinions?

What do we know?

What do we want to know?

Why do you think we did that?

What worked well?

What could have been even better if?

What have you learnt (Drama knowledge: terms, fact(s), skill. co-working, gained confidence?

Recapping and reflecting on learning, knowledge and understanding.

Teacher review, peer review and self-review are integral to learning through evaluation.

Peer voting for classmates that were the most effective group leader or team player, or contributed the most ideas, or had the most enthusiasm.



Curriculum Intent/Aims

Curriculum Implementation/Content

Key skills and knowledge: Creating and Performing

Curriculum Impact/Delivery/Assessment

Key skills and knowledge: Responding

Year 8

In year 8 pupils continue focus on the 4Cs and develop their range of skills through the medium of drama. They develop their creative talents further, perform confidently, and refine their life-long social skills such as cooperation and communication. Building upon Year 8, pupils continue to learn about the origins and contexts of drama. The enhancement of their study of the subject will inform their practical work whilst learning the vital key skills required for success in GCSE drama.

By creating, performing and responding, students are demonstrating knowledge and understanding.

In addition to the further development of the above, year 8 Implementation includes:

  • Styles and Genres
  •  Commedia dell ‘arte, Shakespeare, Realism, Naturalism,
  • Non-naturalistic theatre
  • Conventions and Techniques
  • Experimenting and exploring status through improvisation
  • Conventions of stage directions
  • Conventions of playing to an audience
  • Audience & purpose
  • Stock characters
  • Language
  • Acting techniques
  • Voice Skills
  •  Interpreting a script

In addition to the above, year 8 Impact and assessment also includes:

• Home study:  script-writing and learning of lines.

• Teacher, self and peer feedback is central

• Assessments include summative practical assessment and sometimes questions which focus on techniques and strategies learnt, evaluation/and or reflection of their work and knowledge and understanding of the text, style and genres they have studied.

Drama key stage 3 assessment

In the absence of national curriculum status, we have borrowed from assessment objectives set out by Ofqual for GCSE Drama:

AO1 Create and develop ideas to communicate meaning for theatrical performance.

AO2 Apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance.

AO3 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how drama and theatre is developed and performed.

AO4 Analyse and evaluate their own work and the work of others.

These objectives neatly encapsulate the core elements of learning in drama and since they are intended for GCSE Drama, they help to provide a straightforward and well-sequenced model for progression; incremental learning. We have also taken inspiration from The Arts Council England ‘Drama in Schools’ document that categorises drama into ‘creating, performing and responding’. These categories are straight forward for students to understand and remember. AO1 became ‘creating’, AO2 became ‘performing’ and AO4 became ‘responding’. AO3: knowledge and understanding is incorporated across the other 3 criteria. By creating, performing and responding, students should be demonstrating knowledge and understanding.

At Key Stage 3 students are formally assessed as to whether or not they are ‘working effectively’ and meeting the required attainment level, twice a year. This assessment is recorded on SIMS. If ‘Barriers to a student’s learning’ have been identified, they are also described and recorded. This information is shared with parents and students in their subject reports and during parent evenings.

An obvious concern of structuring assessment towards GCSE assessment objectives is that it has the potential to be restrictive and focused too heavily on merely preparing students for a test they will only take, if they opt to do GCSE drama. However, given how broad the assessment objectives are, there is immense potential for freedom in terms of play choices and devising topics. Also, it’s important that we consider what students need to know in order to reach the next stage of their learning. The Ofsted EIF 2019 supports this, stating that the curriculum should be ‘coherently planned and sequenced towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning.’

We implement a holistic assessment policy to improve the accuracy of teacher assessment and to reduce teacher workload. Effectively, this means we assess students every single moment they are in our classrooms! It makes our approach to assessment more authentic. When we meet a new class, we explain that they will be assessed holistically so everything they do within a lesson contributes to their overall assessment. With this in mind, students are encouraged to engage with each aspect of a lesson, every lesson. If a student is not fully committed, we can remind them that without their best effort we are unable to see the full extent of their ability.

While we have created specific schemes of work to cater to each of the assessment objectives, in most drama lessons students will broadly cover all of the assessment objectives, through the varied tasks they complete. These tasks provide us with detailed and diagnostic information about their progress. During a class discussion, recap or recall quiz/questions at the start of a lesson, students might demonstrate their theoretical understanding of a concept (AO3). They may then move into a rehearsal period, whether scripted or devised, performing or designing, they are developing ideas for performance (AO1). Students may then perform some of their work, whether in-progress or a final piece, they have the chance to apply their skills practically (AO2). Finally, they are given opportunities to self or peer assess their work (AO4) or review a professional performance they have seen.

Just by participating in the lesson, students will have engaged in a wide variety of low-stakes assessment tasks that allow us to continually build a picture of where they are at in drama. Whether answering questions (out loud or written), asking questions, performing, giving feedback or receiving feedback, they are in an environment that is solely focused on helping to improve their knowledge and skills. Feedback and assessment happen constantly and naturally throughout the lesson; conversations between the students and teacher about what needs to happen next and why a particular drama method was used. By creating, performing and responding, students are demonstrating knowledge and understanding.

What is expected of AHS drama students:

  • Ready to learn and quick to settle
  • Takes responsibility for learning
  • Has a desire to learn
  • Willing to work independently with focus/without teacher input
  • Willing to actively participate in a variety of situations
  • Seeks to develop learning by questioning
  • Takes risks to further learning
  • Maintains a positive relationship with others
  • Shows respect at all times
  • Always puts effort into learning/classwork
  • Understands the importance of working to deadlines
  • Takes responsibility for their own and others safety
  • Meets school expectations of behaviour/learning/attendance
  • Fully equipped for lessons
  • Actively engages with learning
  • Always responds to targets/feedback
  • Seeks to demonstrate knowledge through answering questions
  • Seeks opportunities to be challenged
  • Willing to ask for help if needed and knows where to find help
  • Follows all instructions
  • Work is well organised/presented
  • Works well with others

drama terms/strategies for ks3 & ks4 


A freeze frame is a still image created by stopping the action of a drama, in the same way that you can pause a film to see just one still frame. You may ask your pupils to reflect on the significance of the particular moment in the drama so that they can decide when to stop the drama to create a freeze frame.


A tableau is a still image pupils create to symbolise the essence of a situation, relationship or incident. It may also be a comment or reflection on an issue. Pupils may create a tableau from their own imagination.


One pupil takes on a role of a character to answer questions from the rest of the class. Those asking the questions could also play a role. The character may be real, fictional, historic or even an object such as a volcano, house or heart.


Similar to Hot Seating but performed as a group representing one character or thing.


Pupils, in role, express a thought or feeling at a given moment in the drama; other pupils express what the character is thinking or feeling at that moment.


This is a form of thought tracking. Pupils form two straight lines facing each other. One pupil takes on the role of a character and moves down the alley as each pupil in turn voices a thought or feeling as the character. Lines may be any length. One side can give positive responses and the other negative. Other members of the class may take on the role of reporter or observer.


A chorus in drama. Performing in a group/ensemble. From Classical Greek Drama: a group of actors who described and commented upon the main action of the play with song, dance and recitation.


Performers using the same action, movement or gesture at the same time.


Performers completing the same action, movement or gesture, one after another


Marking the Moment is a dramatic technique used to highlight a key moment in a scene or improvisation. This can be done in a number of different ways: for example through slow-motion, a freeze-frame, narration, thought-tracking or music. It has a similar effect to using a spotlight to focus attention on one area of the stage at a particular moment during a performance.

GCSE Glossary of Terms