The Drama department at St Joan of Arc produces a wide range of vibrant and engaging work and offers students across the school the opportunity to be expressive and creative and the platform to perform. We currently have four members of teaching staff with a total of 40 years teaching experience between us and we are all passionate about Drama in Education
Drama at St Joan of Arc is a practically focused subject, enabling our students to explore, create and develop in a way that complements academic skills. A purpose-built Drama facility comprising two practical classrooms or one black-box performance space has been in use for 6 years now; furnished with professional-standard lighting, sound and AV equipment, this facility enhances all of ur performance work for GCSE and GCE examinations.
Teaching and Learning is pupil-centred with the focus very much being learning through a creative and experimental process. Drama at St Joan of Arc allows students an element of freedom and ownership which boosts their confidence across all subject areas nurturing communication, leadership and teamwork skills. Assessment for learning is evident through the regular setting of SMART targets, both in a formal and informal capacity.
At Key Stage 3 pupils are taught Drama in Year 8 for one lesson per week. The course covers both basic drama skills and transferable group skills including collaboration/ team work, use of script/ text in performance, devising, exploration of text, response to stimuli and written/ verbal evaluation. We look at both modern and classic drama texts with students as well as giving our Year 8 students the opportunity to view the performance work of GCSE and AS students and to attend a ‘rewards’ trip for high achieving ATLs which in 2014 will be “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. In Year 9, we also offer students the opportunity to take part in a ‘taster’ GCSE session in order to assist them in making an informed option choice as they progress into Year 10.
At Key Stage 4, pupils follow the Edexcel GCSE Drama course and pupils build on the skills and knowledge put in place at KS3 . Historically, the department has consistently achieved very positive results, both in comparison with other subjects in the school and in comparison with national figures; it is clear from data analysis that we ‘add value’ as a department. We have also developed a tradition of entering students as Performance Support (Set / Costume / Sound/ Lighting/ Make-up design) candidates. This has proved to be a challenging venture for the department and an excellent opportunity for those students targeted. Live Theatre is an important part of the course and in 2013/14, GCSE students have attended performances of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time”, “The Canterbury Tales” and “The Woman in Black”.
At Key Stage 5, pupils follow the Edexcel GCE Drama and Theatre Studies course for which two members of the department are experienced examiners. Again results are consistently well above the national average and were among the highest results in the school. The curriculum is also reviewed regularly to raise achievement and maintain challenge and play-texts studied are changed regularly to fit each cohort and to keep the teaching of these units fresh, practically-focused and highly engaging. Live Theatre is an important part of the GCE course even more so than at GCSE and in 2013/14, A level students have attended performances of “1984”, “Antigone” and “Ghosts”.
We also run a number of well-attended Drama Clubs for students across Years 7-11 supported by our sixth form Drama students.. In recent years students have performed in local as well as staging performances within school. Our 2013 production “Eliza” was very well attended across three nights of performance last February; our abridged version of “Twelfth Night” performed on the professional stage at Watersmeet Theatre as part of the nationwide Shakespeare School’s Festival in October 2013 and was highly commended by the festival organisers. In 2014 so far, we have collaborated with the English and RE/ ARC departments, as well as Watford Palace Theatre and the charity Special Connections to run workshops where Drama is used to support AGT achievement and to offer our students the opportunity to support SEN students from other schools, boosting achievement through extra-curricular enrichment.