Why are we teaching a knowledge-rich curriculum; how is it different?
Pupils at Cromer Academy should have a practical and theoretical knowledge of creating and evaluating live theatre, as well as appreciating the range of professionals that are required to create it, with a vision to embody the skills of experienced practitioners into their own work.
The Performing Arts curriculum has been designed to be culturally rich and complementary to a broad range of other subjects studied at the Academy. For example, in Year 7, pupils explore poetry recitals to complement their work in English, in Year 8 our work on Greek Theatre links directly to study in Philosophy and in Year 9, exploring a Court Case reinforces the PHSE curriculum and British values.
Why are we teaching this content?
At Cromer Academy we provide our pupils with unique and creative ways to develop their knowledge and appreciation as cultural consumers, specifically within the Performing Arts. Through practical and theoretical exploration learners should develop as informed creators and consumers of drama. Furthermore, through an emphasis upon communicating effectively with others, particularly when performing to an audience, it is envisaged that pupils are able to develop presentational skills and techniques that they can use in later life.
Communicating effectively with others encompasses the importance of professionalism on stage, as well as presenting to others. This means that all pupils can show they are prepared (through line learning and rehearsal), project confidence, maintain a role and handle smooth transitions.
Why are we teaching it in this order?
Progression in the Performing Arts is linked to two key areas: an understanding and appreciation of skills and techniques, as well as knowledge about significant styles, movements and forms of theatre. For example, in Year 7 pupils need to be equipped with the right skills and techniques to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts, progressing to an understanding of how these contexts link to theatre tradition. As pupils move into Year 9 and beyond, they are able to deal with critical responses to more challenging forms of theatre such as Physical Theatre (responding to renowned practitioners such as Frantic Assembly and Gecko Theatre) and Absurdism (responding to Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot.)
What do pupils need to remember and be able to do in this subject?
Within each unit of work, which is divided into half-termly blocks, pupils are given subject specific vocabulary to memorise and apply to their practical and written work. It is essential that pupils understand how the Performing Arts brings precise terms to describe elements of performance, ways of working and specialist vocabulary. However, a working understanding of this specific vocabulary is a key to success in the Performing Arts: being able to identify how these words can be used when writing or talking about their work.
Additionally, success in the Performing Arts comes through the development of pupils' confidence to present themselves in front of others, often in playing a role quite different to themselves. We do this through an emphasis upon professionalism on stage, articulation and expression in the voice and control of meaningful body language.
What methods do we use to help pupils secure this knowledge in long-term memory?
In Performing Arts lessons it is important to see professional practitioners (actors, directors, theatre companies, among others) in performance to exemplify performance on stage - this is most often through recorded performances. Furthermore, by teacher modelling, pupils become aware of how concepts can be applied to confident performances. Additionally we may use:
Regular quizzes to test recall of knowledge;
Revisiting previous knowledge and applying it to different contexts;
Teacher questioning, using the ‘cold calling’ technique;
A wide range of practical activities to reinforce theoretical knowledge.