Skip to main content

Progression in primary drama - going beyond the National Curriculum

Drama is an integral component of primary English teaching. It is the engine that drives creative responses to stories, helping children explore characters, settings and predicaments. Yet the primary National Curriculum for England (DfE, 2013) makes scant reference to drama. Some generic guidance indicates the importance of speaking, listening and performing although these points are both too obvious and too generalised to be useful to teachers and subject coordinators hoping to embed drama across the whole school.


When writing our forthcoming book, Teaching Shakespeare in Primary Schools: All the World's a Stage (Routledge, David Fulton, 2021), both Maureen and I felt that whole-school drama guidance for primary teachers - so integral to teaching Shakespeare's plays - was notably lacking from online resources currently available (apologies if you have produced such a document but we could not find it!). We decided to compile our own. In fact, you may have found this blog post from the reference in our book!

Our 'Progressions in Primary Drama' is posted below. It will soon be available as a downloadable pdf from our TES store. 

We have designed our progression for the three phases of primary education (KS1, Lower KS2, Upper KS2) around three strands identified in the National Curriculum. These are making drama, performing and reflecting and drama conventions. Each of these strands is again sub-divided into key areas. You will find the progressions below organised by strand and by phase.

As well as highlighting a range of key skills, we also felt it was important to provide examples of what these skills might look like in practice and how they might feed into children's writing. We have called this 'going beyond the National Curriculum' as we felt that our progression covers key areas essential for a 21st Century education that are entirely absent from the current policy. For example, we look at how children might be encouraged to appreciate aethetics, the link between drama and music, staging drama with growing independence and confidence and employing digital technologies such as film, video recording and digital animation. Our guiding principle was that drama should be exploratory, fun and something that emboldens children by allowing them to make meaningful decisions. 

We hope you find this useful. If so, please leave us a comment below. Feel free to share this blog online although please do tag us if sharing on Twitter using the handles @ARTiculate_UK and @C21Shakespeare.

Progression in primary drama by strand




Progression in primary drama by phase




Popular posts from this blog

Filthy wretch or poor thing? Rethinking the Island, KS2, Week 1

A treat for the final half term - a new workshop at a delightful school in Leeds! This half term I am working with two Year 5 teachers to develop a cross-year group, cross-curricular writing project based on my favourite picture book, Armin Greder's The Island . I've done this book many times and every time the response is different! This week, we got to grips with the facts, possibilities and mysteries of the story. What do we know about the story so far? (we only ever read up to page 6 to leave it on a knife edge...) What doesn't this story tell us and what could we infer or predict?     We looked at the crowd of islanders who 'welcome' the stranger's arrival. As in every class, country or community, no group ever sees the world the same way and we discussed how the islanders might react differently to the man. Is he a poor thing who needs to be rescued? Is he a curiosity? Is he a threat? We each adopted an islander and took on their perspective f

Creative writing based on Hokusai's The Great Wave

The Great Wave - Creative writing workshop, Year 6 Week 1: Vocabulary development Inspired by Japanese artist Hokusai's masterpiece The Great Wave , Year 6 are starting on a creative voyage to bring the iconic print to literary life! We spent some time poring over the features of painting: the spray, the wave, the boats and, well hidden, Mount Fuji. After reading an account of Ellen MacArthur's sailing voyages, we began to generate some cutting edge vocabulary to give our writing some sparkle. This was the process: Children labelled the features of the picture, including parts of the wave (crest, barrel, swell, lip) We chose personified verbs for the different features. 'Grabbing', 'scratching' and 'grasping' for the finger-like lip of the wave; 'screaming', 'slapping' and 'whistling' for the wind. The group selected similes for each of the features. The wind became 'a bellowing dragon', the boats w

Open? Reflecting on an experiment to give away my teaching resources

In August 2019, I started an experiment . Rather than sell my teaching materials online via a platform, I would share them in a pay-as-you-can arrangement. One year on, I reflect on the experiment and why (spoiler alert!) it has left me poorer. ⌚ 7 minutes Last summer, I read the excellent book called Open: how we'll work, live and learn in the future by David Price. This book discussed how developments in technology are altering how we share and gather information and, as such, have transformative implications for how we live, work and learn. These implications are relevant now, Price argues, and will become even more so in the future. It's a fascinating book. Price argues that the spirit of open enterprise (also called Creative Commons) allows traders and service providers to cut out large consultancy agencies, publishing platforms and so on by speak to their clients directly. If you have a training course to sell, for example, avoid an agency: instead promote it via socia