Nick Bentley is a Lead Practitioner for Access & Inclusion and Drama at an all-girls Secondary School in East London. In the spring term of 2017 he conducted an investigation into the use of drama in teaching William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and examined the impact of this on five students in a Year Nine “Nurture Group” class targeted at teaching Literacy and Social Skills. Drawing upon data including a teacher journal, excerpts of student writing and the reflective comments of teaching assistants, the investigation concluded that drama can complement young people’s reading, writing, oral communication and social skills, and contribute to giving them a voice.
What is writing? What is drama? Is there any correlation between the two in terms of individual progress and attainment? These are some of the key questions that influenced this research project, performed and researched by Natasha Cornwell. Natasha is the Teaching and Learning Leader for key stage 3 English at a secondary school academy in Essex. This responsibility invites her to explore ways to enrich the current KS3 curriculum, addressing national expectations and working towards whole-school targets. Her research project was carried out in 2016 with one of her year 8 English classes. It was her ambition to determine whether facilitating drama activities, prior to extended writing tasks, would have any impact upon her students’ writing skills. This was accomplished by comparing written work that took place prior to any drama activities, to written work that took place after drama. She then went on to evaluate samples of work in detail, analysing evidence of the progress, in terms of the school’s assessment criteria, national curriculum expectations and, more interestingly, personal progress which is often too intangible to measure.
At this point of the year, lots of teachers will be breathing a massive sigh of relief having finished their classroom research projects; others will be chewing their nails thinking about the one they’re about to start.
So it’s timely to think about where all this work gets published.
Lucy is a Second in charge of the English department at a leading secondary girls’ independent school in West London. She carried out this school-based research in 2014, in the spring term of her third year of teaching, focusing on her Year 8 class of thirty learners. Lucy wanted to explore how in-role drama activities, particularly writing in role, could be used in the classroom to support and develop students’ understanding and writing in English, principally with Year 8’s study of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Lucy became intrigued with the concept of ‘role’ and the type of learning that takes place when students are immersed in dramatic activity and thus set out to examine the potential benefits and advantages of in-role work in the study of literature.