Drama at Pen y Dre is an exciting, inspiring and practical subject. Our school promotes involvement in and enjoyment of drama, as performers and/or designers. Additionally, it provides opportunities to attend live theatre performances and to develop skills as informed and thoughtful audience members.
At key stage 3 (KS3), pupils are taught for 2 x 60-minute lessons per fortnight, in mixed ability form classes.
At key stage 4 (KS4), it is offered as an option choice, and has an allocation of 4 x 60-minute lessons per fortnight. We are very lucky at Pen y Dre that we can offer both WJEC Drama GCSE and WJEC Performing Arts Vocational as two separate options enabling a program that is appropriate for each of the course requirements and student strengths.
At each key stage the Drama schemes of work are taught in a predominantly practical way, where possible; almost entirely so at KS3. Learners are expected to participate fully in all activities. Each half term learners will study a new drama skill, genre, or play. We start with 6 weeks of workshop lessons in Year 7 to introduce learners to the subject before moving onto Matilda, Melodrama and Greek Theatre, gradually building up our learners’ confidence and skills. In Year 8 we build and further develop these performance skills by introducing devising techniques and non- naturalistic conventions. In Year 9 the topics are more challenging, and learners have the opportunity to tackle a GCSE text to help them decide if them want to pursue the subject further. Most of the homework at KS3 will involve meeting up with groups during lunch breaks to rehearse, learning lines and finding props and costumes for assessment performances.
At KS4 lessons are delivered in workshop form, beginning with a warm-up appropriate to the nature and demands of the ensuing exercises and activities. Learners will investigate a practitioner or genre of drama, work collaboratively to develop ideas to communicate meaning and experiment with dramatic conventions, forms and techniques to produce and realise a piece of original theatre. They will also have the opportunity to participate in the performance of an extract from a published performance text. Learners will demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of drama, including their ability to interpret texts for performance, in a written examination. However, in preparation for this assessment, learners are encouraged to study their chosen text practically as a performer, designer and director.
The department has a strong tradition of extra-curricular activities and learners are offered a wide range of theatrical experiences; with musicals, plays and workshop performances to perform in. The most recent of these being, ‘Aladdin’ in 2019, ‘Jungle Book’ in 2018 and ‘Oliver’ in 2016. In addition, Christmas concerts are held at school, working alongside our Music department and other subject areas such as RE and English. The Drama department also supports the Welsh department in the Urdd Eisteddfodau and have had huge successes over the past 8 years.
There are regular theatre trips offered across the age range. They are arranged to enhance the learners’ experience of live theatre in various genres. It is also important for the theoretical element of the examination courses.
There is one full time specialist, two part time specialists and one part-time non-specialist teachers within the Drama department.