Drama performance and rehearsal spaces have been incorporated into government primary and secondary school building guidelines for the first time.
The new baseline designs, released by the Department for Education, include a multi-use hall space in secondary schools with retractable seating for audiences, which is adjacent to a drama studio and theatre storage area.
Meanwhile the primary school sketches outline a flexible hall space designed to allow for performances, and a studio for rehearsals on the floor above.
Based on a 1,200-pupil secondary and 420-pupil primary school, the sketches will act as guidelines for local building contractors who are adding to existing buildings or creating new schools, according to a spokeswoman for the Department for Education.
She said the designs should act as a starting point for costing new buildings and that schools are expected to adapt the plans to suit their individual needs.
The blueprints have been developed by the government’s Education Funding Agency in consultation with national theatres advisory body the Theatres Trust, along with specialist groups for other subjects.
Mhora Samuel, director of the Theatres Trust, said the designs are a victory because previous government school building plans have not included a studio as a backstage area for drama shows, or a flexible performance space with removable seating.
She explained that because the tiered ‘bleacher’ seating in secondary schools could now be removed and stored away, this would allow easy access to a control desk.
“From the Theatres Trust perspective, seeing the theatre so centrally placed in the school in a properly enclosed volume is a real move forward. We are delighted that they [the EFA] consulted us and took on the majority of what we suggested,” she said.
She added: “We need good facilities to be able to teach drama, but it goes far beyond teaching – it’s about placing theatre experiences at the heart of every child in school.”