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I have a question: Are primary teachers being trained in drama techniques any more?

When I did my PGCE back in 1995 we had a compulsory unit on the uses of drama to teach across the curriculum.

Three years ago, Mud Pie Arts delivered six hours of training to Year 1, 2 and 3 primary undergraduates at York St. John. Our unit was an optional module.

I often wonder if teachers realise the power of drama to motivate children in all manner of subjects: from understanding why Victorian families sent their children to work, to debating the need for rural housing, to finding out how bees communicate. Drama can lead to a deeper understanding in history, geography, science and literacy.

Time and time again, I see children full of enthusiasm to find out more.

‘I’m going to check out the food labels at home to see if we eat any palm oil’ - said one boy after a drama lesson on deforestation. Drama naturally leads to independent learning, as children have committed to a role. They feel more emotionally involved.

Teachers, how often do you get your children out of their seats to involve them in kinesthetic learning?

I know many teachers worry about control during drama, but the rules are the same as for a P.E. lesson. If you can control children’s excitement with a plastic hockey stick, you can control their exuberance when exploring an imaginary rainforest! Start with simple still images. You will be amazed how much focus they can have when they are channeling the feelings of a fleeing Viking!

So if you want to skill up in drama, Mud Pie are here for your Inset needs!

I read these remarks on a recent IVE (arts council) newsletter:

“In England, for more than two decades, teachers have been required to participate in five in-service training days per year. The research evidence demonstrates that these are rarely well organised, are seen as of little use by participating teachers and represent a wasted resource.” – Brighouse and Moon (2013)

Our own conversations with teachers back up this finding with one remarking:

“I would love a training day that actually makes me a better teacher. And I’m going to scream if I have another one that is focused on how I can make OFSTED like my lessons better. Instead, the focus should be on making sure my pupils like my lessons and actually get something out of them. Is a jargon- free day with some actionable insights too much to ask for?”

What’s more, our Inset sessions are always filled with lots of laughs. And in a highly pressured teaching job, that’s good for everyone right?!

- Jenna

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