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Drama, an essential part of an international curriculum

31 October 2018
At Wellington College International Shanghai, we fundamentally believe in the benefits of learning drama throughout a child’s education. We deliver elements of drama in the Early Years and Pre-Prep through classroom teaching and then have specialist lessons in drama and dance from year 3 onwards within our core curriculum. These classes extend up to year 10 when pupils can choose to study an IGCSE in drama and culminates in the ability to take an IB in theatre in years 12 and 13.   As well as the drama offered within the curriculum, we also have extensive co-curricular activities in drama offered throughout the College, where pupils will have the chance to expand their knowledge and ultimately have the ability to perform in productions, concerts and plays.   The most challenging part about teaching drama is to initially encourage the more introverted or shy pupils to engage with the subject and take what we call ‘creative risk’. All pupils benefit from the elements taught within the curriculum but taking the initial step to be creative can be a challenge to some pupils. We provide a safe, non-judgmental environment to encourage full participation. We also do not undertake comparative assessment of pupils until Senior School and at that time the assessments are only used to guide pupils’ choices regarding IGCSEs. We strongly believe that a pupil should only be judged on their individual progress in the Lower and Upper Prep School. Therefore, feedback is designed to allow each individual to truly reach their own potential.   Drama is one of the most important subjects that any pupil can learn, as it can future-proof and prepare them for challenges in both education and life. The core skills learned within a drama curriculum are creativity, communication and team work; skills required to be successful in any career. The future is unknown in terms of what jobs will even exist when our youngest pupils have completed their required education. By giving them these essential, transferable skills, we enable them to engage differently with the world and meet its inevitable challenges in an open and creative way.   Wellington also strongly believes in the importance of having performance opportunities within a professional environment. Musicals are very good vehicles for pupil learning as they incorporate the three main performance skills all within a single event. Our pupils need to learn to act, sing and dance, all performed to a level as near to professional as possible. We currently produce three major musicals each year. One is designed to be suitable for years 3-5, one for years 5-8 and finally we present a production which is either whole school or Senior School (depending on the show).   We are currently rehearsing Little Shop of Horrors for the Senior School, which is produced under license from MTI in New York. The production has approximately 40 performers, 8 show band members and a team of 10 teacher-led prop makers who are creating the fantastic plants. The cast and crew range in age from 13 to 18.   The show will be performed on December 6, 7 and 8 at 7:00pm in our incredible College Theatre.