INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT

The relationship between drama
education and the Department for Education (DfE) has always been strained.
Since the introduction of the National Curriculum in secondary schools in 1989,
drama has not been recognised as a subject in its own right. Instead, it is
included under the English statutory program of study for reading but is ‘not a
compulsory national curriculum subject after the age of 14’ (Department for Education, 2013).
58

 

Whilst there have always been
advocates for drama to be included independently as a compulsory part of the
curriculum, their numbers have increased with the creation of the English
Baccalaureate (EBacc) in 2010. As stated by Dunford (2016), ‘the English Baccalaureate has reinforced a
hierarchy of subjects in secondary schools, with English and maths at the top
and the arts at the bottom.’ By not including a compulsory arts subject as part
of the EBacc and instead placing emphasis on the humanities and modern foreign
languages, drama is at risk of being forced out of the curriculum entirely (Hemley, 2017). 100

 

Following the EBacc’s implementation in 2010, research
has shown that in 2011, 23% of schools had withdrawn drama and performing arts
as a GCSE option and in 2012 a further 23% had withdrawn (Greevey et al. 2012). Furthermore,
between 2015 and 2016 there was a decreased uptake in drama of 4% followed by a
further 9% decrease between 2016 and 2017 (Ofqual, 2017, cited by Bano, 2017). 67

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However, despite research showing a nationwide
drop in uptake, at School X drama GCSE uptake has remained consistent. Providing
education for 11 to 16 year olds, School X is a mixed gender comprehensive with
1656 pupils on role and 116 teaching staff, it was rated ‘good’ in its last
OFSTED inspection (OFSTED,
2013).  Drama is taught twice per
fortnight to year 7 and year 8 and from September 2017 has been introduced as a
pre-GCSE choice to year 9 students (if selected, students have four lessons
every fortnight). School X currently has three year 11 GCSE drama classes made
up of 24 boys and 31 girls and three year 10 classes made up of 29 boys and 33 girls.
119

 

The drama department at school X has been able
to maintain a consistent balance in uptake for both genders at GCSE and nurture
high levels of engagement with the majority of students in year 7 and those who
elected to take drama in year 9. However, through the observations of my
colleagues and teaching my own lessons it has become evident that there is a
higher level of disengagement within my year 8 lessons, specifically within the
cohort consisting of white middle class boys. 84

 

In an educational climate where the arts are in
jeopardy of being replaced by the Ebacc subjects, any level of disengagement poses
a significant risk to the future of drama as part of the curriculum. Drama at
school X is specifically at risk because, as aforementioned, the school decided
that from 2017, drama would become a non-compulsory, pre-GCSE year 9 option.
Therefore, students’ experience of drama in lower KS3 has become vital with the
relationship between year 8 students and their levels of engagement becoming
particularly significant. 87

 

Total:
515

 

RATIONALE/LITERATURE
REVIEW (2500 words) WHY DID YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DID? Subject / generic
research literature Practitioner scholarship Policy & Guidance National
Curriculum/Exam Spec?Curriculum materials/textbooks Critique
these?What does the reader need to know about the
unit?

 

 

DEFINING DISENGAGEMENT AND ITS EFFECT ON
LEARNING

As highlighted by Hancock & Zubrick (2015, pg. 4), teachers often
use the terms of engagement and disengagement interchangeably when referring to
students and the classroom environment; stating that both terms represent ‘two
ends of the same continuum’. Therefore, it is necessary to define what student disengagement
is and how the behaviour of disengaged students can be identified in an
educational context. 63

 

As stated by the Oxford Dictionary (2012), disengagement is the ‘action
or process of withdrawing from involvement in an activity, situation, or
group.’ Yet this definition is ambiguous and therefore needs to be applied to students
in an educational context. Fredricks
(2014, pg. 14) states  that student
disengagement can be identified by ‘lower student effort in areas such as work
completion and quality, as well as in student disruptions, participation or
absences’. However, Fredricks’ definition only provides information on how to recognise
a disengaged attitude to learning (AtL) in the classroom, without considering
the short or long-term effects and what teachers could do to counteract them as
part of their teaching practice. 79

 

Whilst Morris
and Pullen (2007) agree that student disengagement is communicated
through a student’s motivation, behaviour and attitude to learning, they
specify that disengagement is more complex than a student withdrawing or
presenting negative behaviour in class. In their 2007 study on key stage 3 disengagement,
they specify how there are two branches of
disengagement through which students express their AtL, behaviour and
motivation; active disengagement (where a student physically withdraws from
lessons and/or school via truancy) and passive disengagement (where a student
mentally and emotionally withdraws from their lessons).  For the purposes of this essay, I will
predominantly be focusing on passive disengagement. 104

 

Furthermore,
Hancock & Zubrick (2015) identify how disengagement can increase the risk
of students leaving school prematurely without finishing their compulsory
school years.

 Whilst
this may not have a negative impact on these students later in life, there is a
potential for premature school leavers to put themselves at ‘greater risk of
unemployment, low income, social inclusion, risky health behaviours, and
engaging in crime.’ (Hancock
& Zubrick 2015, pg. 5). Despite the study being based in Australia, the
country’s similar educational system (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017) allows an insight to the
potential long term consequences of disengagement at a secondary school level. 87

 

However, The Department for Education and
Skills (2002) has recognised that within state secondary schools student
disengagement can have four main consequences

x

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