Drama-in-schools initiative featured on ABC TV

14 October 2011

The ABC's weeknight national current affairs flagship program, 7.30, has highlighted a teacher-mentoring initiative, which is a partnership between by the Faculty of Education and Social Work and Sydney Theatre Company (STC).

The aim of the collaboration, titled "School Drama", is to provide professional training to primary teachers in how to use drama strategies to enhance children's English and literacy development. Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts Robyn Ewing told 7.30 drama could re-engage the significant proportion of school children who become disinterested in classroom learning, particularly during the middle years.

"It's been demonstrated over and over again that actually getting into the action, engaging children in their own learning instead of being taught to, or taught at, makes a huge difference," she said.

"Drama can have a similar impact in social studies or in history, in geography, in maths, science, etcetera. You only have to look at the engagement of the children to see that's the kind of learning we want across the primary curriculum."

The collaboration – which is funded entirely by STC's patrons – has so far spread to 18 schools from an initial five schools two years ago. 7.30, along with Professor Ewing and STC co-directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett visited the classroom of Haberfield Public School teacher Katie McLennan, where actor Ben Wood has been involved in dramatising the English the curriculum.

The segment featured footage of a lesson being planned and in action, as well as interviews with Professor Ewing, Wood, Upton, Blanchett, Ms McLennan and students in the class.

Dr Robyn Gibson is evaluating the results of the multi-school initiative. Upton told the interviewer, Natasha Johnson, the aim would be to share the results with all the other state theatre companies and encourage them to link up with a university in their city.