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New survey of 250 UK English and Drama teachers assesses impact that access to live theatre has on ability to study dramatic texts.

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Brand new exclusive data surveying 250 English and Drama teachers reveals seeing live/streamed theatre performances is essential to the greatest understanding of core curriculum texts; provides best chance to achieve top grades in English and Drama

  • 78% of teachers state that students are more engaged with dramatic texts after seeing a performance
  • 72% of teachers state that seeing live or filmed performances helps students memorise context, meaning and quotes – all essential for exams
  • More than half of teachers cite key factors prohibiting access: cost barriers + lack of resources

DIGITAL THEATRE+ today announced a study involving 250 English and Drama teachers intending to give a deeper understanding of the importance for students to have access to performances of the dramatic texts they study. 

Background information

  • By law, dramatic texts account for a minimum of 25% and often up to 50% of the GCSE English Curriculum. 
  • Digital Theatre+ spoke exclusively to the people on the ground – teachers of English and Drama – to discover the perceived educational benefits when students are able to access live or streamed theatre.
  • A previous study (2017) by Shakespeare’s Globe found that ‘half of teenagers ‘never been in a theatre’
  • Today Digital Theatre+ spoke to teachers to gain an understanding of the core barriers to being able to witness live performance.

KEY FINDINGS

Factors that prohibit trips to the theatre:

For the many students who do not get the opportunity to witness performances of the plays they are studying, the two key factors that most prohibit this are:

  • Cost barriers for schools and parents (Identified by 58% of teachers)
  • Time/lack of teacher resources due to current extra squeeze on arts subjects (identified by 54% of teachers)

Benefits of seeing live or streamed performances:

  • 78% of teachers stated that students are often more engaged with dramatic texts after having seen them in a theatre or a film adaptation as opposed to only being able to read the text in a book.
  • 72% of teachers stated that watching theatre or film adaptations as opposed to simply reading text helps their students to memorise context, meaning and quotes, which is essential for exams.

Challenges for students when reading text-based plays as opposed seeing them performed:

  • Issues with attention or sitting still for a long time when reading a text – 52% of teachers found this a notable issue 
  • trouble understanding the language of older texts – 51% of teachers found this to be a notable issue. 

Neelay Patel – CEO of Digital Theatre and Digital Theatre+ said:

These findings indicate that unless there is a core shift in priority, many students will never have a chance of achieving the best grades they can in the core subject of English.

It is no secret that the Government has chosen an education policy that focuses on STEM subjects to the detriment of the arts – but GCSE English is still considered completely vital in the world – almost all university courses require at least a 4 for a standard pass or 5 for a “strong pass” or higher, and a passing grade is also required by many employers. 

When current English literature statutory requirements mean that between 25-50% of an English Literature GCSE is based on being able to understand and interpret dramatic texts. And when we have solid proof that the vast majority of English and Drama teachers consider students seeing a live or streamed performance of those texts as essential to their teaching. It is incredibly frustrating to see that, due to budget and time constraints – however dedicated the teachers – schools are not in a position to help their students achieve the best grades.

Full survey data here

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