The Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) was introduced to schools as a statutory requirement in September 2013. The school management team decided to deliver lessons in Literacy and Numeracy on top of their normal provision. These Literacy and Numeracy lessons would be timetabled as five lessons per fortnight. Therefore the curriculum offered to learners in Key Stage 3 had to be changed.
Up until the curriculum change, Art and Design, Music and Drama had equal allocated teaching time, which was two hours per fortnight for each year group.
Discussions leading up to the change focused on the Creative Arts subjects having a reduction in curriculum time. In fact it was proposed that Drama should be withdrawn from the school curriculum at KS3. This was proposed because Drama is not a subject within the National Curriculum for this key stage therefore there are no Drama-specific level descriptions against which learners could be assessed at the end of Key Stage 3.
Members of the teaching staff within the Creative Arts faculty, and other teachers, felt that the proposal would leave a huge gap in the creative development of learners and would have a detrimental effect for learners who wished to take Drama at Key Stage 4 and Post-16. Drama was already a minority subject beyond KS3, and would have become further squeezed in terms of pupil numbers and therefore outcomes in qualifications would suffer.
Working with the LNF Coordinator and the Assistant head teacher responsible for curriculum planning, it was agreed to designate two of the proposed five LNF lessons a fortnight to ‘Creative Literacy through Drama’. These lessons would have a strong drama base but would be planned to work more closely within the Literacy and Numeracy framework developing aspects of oracy, reading and writing more thoroughly. Through their Drama experiences learners would be assessed in terms of the English National Curriculum level descriptions and tracked in their Oracy skills (Speaking, Listening and Collaboration and Discussion) as in the LNF. Drama teachers would then be accountable for the development and standards of pupils in these areas.
The importance of the Creative Arts in developing learners’ creative and literacy skills was recognised in this school, although many discussions were needed in order to ensure that the arts were not undermined and reduced in terms of curriculum time. Drama as a subject area delivers on many fronts in terms of learners’ creative and critical thinking, public speaking as well as oracy skills. It also enables learners to have a further avenue in which they could be successful and therefore raises motivation and self-confidence. The Creative Arts faculty recognised the benefits to learners and therefore fought to keep curriculum time.