Theatres including the Donmar Warehouse, the Royal Court and the Almeida are among organisations calling for all children to be entitled to drama teaching and visits to plays as part of their education.
The theatres, along with other venues such as Battersea Arts Centre, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Kiln and the Unicorn, and advocacy bodies including Action for Children’s Arts and National Drama, have developed a manifesto promoting the importance of drama in education.
Drama, Theatre and Young People – a Manifesto makes the case for a committed approach to theatre in schools, arguing that children and young people “thrive in schools where drama is accessible to all through the curriculum”.
It calls for:
The manifesto comes amid ongoing criticism of the declining position of arts in the classroom. Teachers face increasing budgetary pressures and squeezed resources, and there are calls for the government’s English Baccalaureate to be scrapped for not including the arts.
Theatres and cultural organisations continue to warn of the damage this could wreak on young people’s futures as well as on the future success of the UK’s creative industries.
It has been developed by a group of organisations: ACA, London Drama, the London Theatre Consortium – which comprises 14 of the capital’s leading venues – Nuffield Southampton Theatres, the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments and the Theatre Education Forum.
In order to secure curriculum entitlement for drama, schools should have specialist teachers, relevant resources and appropriate space and time given over to the subject. The manifesto also suggests that Ofsted should ensure its inspectors have knowledge of drama education.
It calls on the Department for Education to disseminate, and act on, research that “demonstrates the impact of drama and theatre pedagogy on children and young people”.
Elsewhere, the manifesto asks for more support for children’s theatre companies and artists, and funded training for practitioners to work alongside teachers. It also highlights the need for young people, parents, careers advisors and schools to develop a better understanding of the economic importance of the creative industries.
In order to nurture a “world-class” future workforce, the manifesto calls for tax free bursaries for people wishing to take drama at PGCE – teacher training – level, as is already the case for other subjects, and additional training for theatres and their employees on working with young people and teachers.