Drama and the National Curriculum

The benefits of drama and the power of imaginative play are becoming increasingly recognised, and as such, many nurseries, preschools and schools place real value on these areas. The approach to drama in education varies in each country within the UK (see below) and although drama is not a recognised core subject, many nurseries and schools work hard to provide their children with a positive experience of drama.

The Pyjama Drama programme fully supports the National Curriculum, providing a vehicle for educators to develop these important skills in children within their setting in a fun and engaging way. If you'd like to find out more about becoming one of our highly talented teachers, you can learn about franchising with Pyjama Drama here.

In England, The Foundation Stage for children up to the age of five stresses the importance of learning through play and summarises each child's learning into Areas of Learning and Development - three prime areas and four specific areas:

Prime areas (the knowledge and skills which are considered the foundation for children's school readiness):

    Communication and language
    Physical development
    Personal, social and emotional development

Specific areas (curriculum providers must also support children in four distinct areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied):

    Literacy
    Mathematics
    Understanding the world
    Expressive arts and design

Drama is not a discrete curriculum area, although from Key Stage 1 through to Key Stage 4 drama is taught within the English curriculum as part of the Speaking and Listening element (en1). Many secondary schools also offer drama as a discrete subject from Year Seven and then as a subject at GCSE.

In Northern Ireland, from Key Stage 1 to 4 the curriculum is defined by Areas of Learning. One such area is The Arts, defined as, 'Art and design, drama and music'.

At the Foundation Stage (which in Northern Ireland refers to the first two years of compulsory education for pupils aged four to six), drama provision is also encompassed within one of the six areas of learning; The Arts:

'Children’s creative, expressive and physical development is closely linked with all aspects of their learning. Children should be given opportunities to explore and share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of: art and design, music, movement, dance, dramatic and role-play activities. Through taking part in a range of well-planned activities, children’s fine and gross motor skills will develop, they will gain confidence in what they can do, and this will help build their self-esteem.'

The Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland aims to provide children between three to eighteen a coherent and flexible curriculum. The curriculum has eight areas, one of these being Expressive Arts, within which drama is taught (along with art and design, dance and music), and aims to provide children with a wide and practical experience of drama:

'Through drama, learners have rich opportunities to be creative and to experience inspiration and enjoyment. Creating and presenting are prominent activities for all learners. Their acting and presenting skills are developed through participating in scripted or improvised drama. Exploring real and imaginary situations helps learners to understand and share their world. They develop their capacity to enjoy drama and their knowledge and understanding through evaluating technical aspects and scripts, and commenting on their work and the work of others.'

Education for children in Wales up to the age of seven years is defined by the Foundation Phase. Children are encouraged to learn through play through seven Areas of Learning:

    Creative development
    Physical development
    Personal, social and emotional development
    Knowledge and understanding of the world
    Language, communication and literacy
    Mathematical development
    Bilingualism and multi-cultural understanding

Drama is not a discrete curriculum subject but, as in England is taught as part of the English curriculum. Many secondary schools do offer drama as a subject in its own right and as a subject at GCSE.