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More than half of drama teachers saw a drop in pupils choosing the subject at GCSE and A-Level following remote learning. 

group of drama students perform on stage
Research found students were reluctant to perform following remote learning

West Midlands Police

Most secondary school drama teachers believe Covid-19 harmed drama education, according to new research. 
84% of teachers responding to National Drama’s Covid Impact Study said the pandemic had a “significant impact” on drama education. 
Teachers reported a lack of confidence, increased anxiety, poor skills development and reticence to perform among students after remote learning was introduced. 

Federation of Drama Schools Chair Sean McNamara says Covid's impact on student wellbeing has been "significant".

"They are dealing with the constant uncertainty of what the future looks like, having to learn and work in a disembodied and isolated reality and having to be hesitant and cautious around social distancing and working together, when we want to enable them to be bold and confident as artists."
Drama’s status within the national curriculum, the attitudes of students, school leaders and government, and a lack of space, equipment and financial support were highlighted as the main issues now facing secondary drama education. 
National Drama says it is “concerned” by the lack of Government support, following cuts to higher education arts funding, suspension of a £270m arts premium and the release of Department of Education recommendations for teaching a broad and balanced curriculum that don't mention drama.

The association is calling on the Government to recognise drama as a foundation subject. Unlike other arts, it is not a compulsory subject in England’s National Curriculum. 

National Drama’s Carolyn Bradley, the research lead, said the creativity, confidence and positive mental wellbeing drama can offer students is now more important than ever. 
“The pandemic has had such a detrimental effect on young people’s wellbeing and prevented opportunities for socio-emotional learning in group settings,” she said. 

Distanced learning

Younger drama students appear to be more affected by periods of remote learning. 

56% of teachers noticed students aged 11-13 (KS3) were less engaged during distanced learning, compared to 24% of those teaching students aged 14-16 (KS4). 
Some teachers reported positive outcomes from remote classes. Spending more time on drama theory meant pupil’s understanding of subject specific terminology deepened.  
Others asked students to work on theatre design, lighting and costumes, whilst some used digital theatre performances to support online classes. 
Upon return to the classroom, over half of teachers said social distancing reduced their access to specialist teaching spaces.

National Drama says this will have had a “profound impact” on students’ access to a full and enriching drama curriculum. 
Less opportunity to learn practical skills will affect students’ development of interpersonal skills through drama, it adds. 

Decline in uptake 

More than half of drama teachers saw the number of students opting for GCSE drama in the last academic year decrease. 
Teachers attributed the decline to performance anxiety caused by students not receiving a full drama curriculum throughout the pandemic.
Some schools limited the number of options available to GCSE and A Level students or removed drama from the curriculum altogether - a move that undermines the position drama could have in educational recovery, National Drama says. 

“Drama is a social art form that involves negotiation, creativity, decision making and collaboration, as well as performance,” said National Drama Chair Geoff Readman. 

“It is a curriculum entitlement and rarely has it been more needed.”