Bringing drama to the classroom

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In his first of an occasional series Nick White, education manager at the Theatre Royal putsthe case for making theatre part of the curriculum:

At the Theatre Royal, alongside our other programmes of work with young people, adults and communities, we have a growing programme of work for formal education settings: that is primary schools all the way through to universities. We work with everyone and anyone who goes to school, including teachers, and while most of our work takes place in Plymouth we do have relationships with settings across the region.

Presently we are working with six local primary schools on Playhouse, an exciting project whereby we help Year 5 and 6 pupils put on a professionally written play in the Drum Theatre. We will soon be launching School Ties, a big partnership project between primary and secondary schools, and we are also developing links with courses at the university and Marjon.

Why do we work with schools though? Surely teachers have enough to be doing without arranging a trip to the theatre? Surely exams like SATs and GCSEs are the priority? As for universities, students don’t have any money, so what good are they?

Everyone at some point in their life, and usually for a substantial part of their formative years, has been in education. They might not have stayed long. They might have stayed for a very long time. They may still be there! They may have been excluded time and time again. They may be learning or they may be teaching. Every school aims to have a positive impact on the people there, but sometimes this isn’t an easy thing to achieve. Teachers and their pupils have to spend a substantial amount of their lives together and quite often the prospect of having someone from the ‘outside’ come in to contribute to this work can raise aspiration as well as achievement.

Cultural organisations such as the Theatre Royal (and countless others) have a big responsibility to help make sure these positive impacts are not only possible, but take place consistently. Crucially this does not take place on its own. Working closely with headteachers, classroom teachers, teaching assistants and the pupils or students themselves means that those positive opportunities are relevant, engaging and affordable.

We have staff who are purely responsible for working within formal education. We are constantly forming and developing relationships with schools not just because they are important regular customers, but because by working creatively and in partnership, learning becomes a joyful experience for everyone involved.

“Evening Herald article”:

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