Drama at Springwell is a valued and exciting element of the curriculum. As well as developing performance skills and an understanding of the art of theatre, students develop the social and communication skills which they need to operate successfully in any environment.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage 3 students are introduced to a variety of topics and texts which they explore practically, gradually building to group or individual performances. To help them prepare for deeper study at Key Stage 4 they reflect on both the process of making the drama and their performance with a written evaluation at the end of each unit.
In Year 7 students are introduced to the concept of creating drama from scratch through the use of freeze frames, structured dialogue, movement and narration. They also look at silent movies and focus on physical skills to convey a character and a story. This leads into a comic script Holiday Hotel, scenes of peer conflict, and ends in an exploration of a haunted house Darkwood Manor. The focus is on working cooperatively and productively with each other, problem solving and negotiating through tackling engaging and relevant topics in an active learning environment.
In Year 8 students build on the skills they have started to develop in Year 7, and continue to look at a range of dramatic stimuli and develop their own pieces. These range from a synchronised movement sequence through scenes of family conflict into scenes from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and culminating in a unit entitled The Outsider in which students are asked to devise a piece using a variety of performance techniques, including flashback, monologue and voices in the head to tell a story. At the end of Year 8 they can opt to continue the subject in Year 9.
In Year 9 students are given a grounding for the AQA GCSE Drama course. The skills they started to develop in Year 7 and Year 8 are further honed with deeper study of performance techniques. The Year 9 course moves through units on physical theatre, interpretation of dialogue, creation of Comedy Grotesque scenes into the study and performance of a monologue. The year finishes with a devised piece of work based around a Moment of Crisis. The written work is developed more fully and students are introduced to some of the more demanding requirements of the GCSE.
Key Stage 4
Two Drama based courses are offered at Key Stage 4: GCSE Drama and Technical Award in Performing Arts. Both these courses require students to research, rehearse and perform pieces of drama, but the GCSE has a final written examination (40% of the marks) whereas the Technical Award has a practical performance supported by an evaluation produced under controlled conditions. Year 10 of the GCSE is spent producing a devised piece and an accompanying devising log; in Year 11 students explore the set text Blood Brothers and prepare pieces for a practical examination. Live performance review is a compulsory element of the course and students are offered the opportunity to visit the theatre locally and further afield. The Technical Award allows a year for skills development before students are assessed on the completion of three components – a research project, a performance of two scripted pieces and the final devised piece. Whichever course they follow, students are encouraged to show independence and initiative, developing and applying the skills introduced at Key Stage 3.
Springwell has exceptional Drama facilities: a fully fitted drama studio with blackout curtains, stage lighting and sound desk and projection. This is used for teaching and for smaller performances. The main college Hall is the second Drama space – plenty of room for practical activities, lighting and sound and projection; in addition there is tiered seating which can be electronically rolled out or back, depending on requirements. Major school productions are staged in here.
Springwell has a history of excellent productions; in recent years these include Grease, A Christmas Carol and High School Musical. Students are offered the opportunity to get involved either by auditioning for the lead roles, playing a supporting role in the chorus, helping with the technical aspects (lights/sound/costume/props etc) or by being involved with the music or dance elements. Typically, a school production will involve about 80 students depending on cast size.
Arts Evenings are also a regular feature of the college’s calendar, where students perform pieces they have produced in lessons to an appreciative audience of friends and family members.
Our community arts provision SCART offers a full programme of dance, drama and music clubs and activities for all ages – infant to adult - and details of these can be found on the website. The Arts at Springwell have always been recognised as fostering core values and skills and the interest and engagement of students at all stages is testament to their value.