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Northampton School for Boys

Northampton School for Boys


Team Leader - Lindsay Greenaway 

Year 7

Term 1: Drama Skills

An introductory scheme that equips the pupils with the fundamental skills needed to perform, work as a team and respond creatively to a series of short tasks. The scheme instils the importance of a good spatial awareness, making the pupils aware of stage positioning, vocal projection and movement and using a range of different dramatic stimuli as a starting point.  Towards the second half of the term, we introduce spontaneous and rehearsed improvisational tasks to motivate the pupils to be both creative and professional in how they present their work; physical theatre and loop dialogues also feature in the skills based unit, encouraging the pupils to apply the techniques they’ve acquired throughout the term to a short script-free performance.

Term 2: Darkwood Manor

Would you stay the night in Darkwood Manor…? This scheme is a firm favourite of the pupils at Northampton School for Boys, in part because of the storytelling opportunities it presents but also because of how imaginative it encourages the students to be, in fact the development of the scheme is dependent on it.

This unit focuses on the physical actions of the actor and again promotes the importance of teamwork and cooperation. Whilst the emerging story has a simple structure for the pupils to follow, the outcome of the drama relies on how the students create tension and atmosphere whilst weaving chilling tales and non- naturalistic techniques into every dramatic response. The creative writing task at the end of the scheme allows the pupils to utilise what they have practically explored into a nail- biting crescendo.

Term 3: Holes by Louis Sacher

Holes is a novel written by Louis Sacher which was adapted into a film by Disney productions in 2003. The novel tells the story of a boy called Stanley Yelnats, who is sent to Camp Green Lake for ‘allegedly’ stealing Clyde Livingston’s shoes. Throughout the scheme, the pupils will be learning about the social, historical and cultural context of the plot as it visits three different time frames; Latvia in the 1870’s, Green Lake during the 1900’s and finally at Camp Green Lake, present day. The pupils will explore a variety of skills during the scheme that will enable them to demonstrate their learning through a script- free performance at the end of the unit, utilising the use of props, costume and staging. Amongst other areas, the students will learn about:

  • The relationship between performer and audience
  • The performers' vocal interpretation of character such as accent, volume, pitch, pace, delivery of lines
  • The performers' understanding of character such as build, age, height, facial features, movement, posture, gesture, facial expression.

Over the course of all units the students will learn about specific strategies including:

Role play, Flashback, Thought tracking, Narration, Split screen, Hot seating, Cross- cutting and Writing in role and role on the wall.

Year 8

Term 1- Oliver Twist

This unit explores the life of a child in Victorian Britain, in particular Victorian schools, workhouses and how the industrial revolution impacted on modern living. The students then go onto explore different scenes from the play of Oliver Twist. As a home learning task, the students are asked to learn lines, prepare possible props and costumes and rehearse an extract from the play demonstrating their understanding of character, context as well as the social and cultural influences learned at the beginning of the unit.

In addition to the line learning task, students are asked to prepare the following presentation to demonstrate what they have learned over the course of the unit:

  • A mood board about all aspects of Victorian life
  • A 2D design of a set for a Victorian play of choice
  • A 3D model of a Victorian set
  • A costume design for the play
  • A power point about the process of making the set

The task requires the pupils to work together and arrange preparation outside of the lesson to ensure the task is ready for sharing.

Term 2- Theatre in Education (TIE)

This unit explores how theatre can be a powerful medium not only to entertain but educate as well. The unit specifically addresses SMSC issues of peer pressure, drug abuse, taking responsibility for ones actions and understanding the effect this can have on others. The pupils begin the unit by learning about the different types of drugs and the legalities associated with them. They then explore different TIE companies to see how to incorporate an educational dimension to their work, looking at how to produce a powerful message with minimal props, staging and costumes. The pupils are then given the story of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens to explore using the structure of past, present and future to create a play based on the dangers of drug abuse.

The focus throughout the unit is collaborative learning, so in addition to the themes explored the pupils learn soft skills to include; developing leadership strategies, generating ideas and starting points, working in groups, script- writing and ensemble performance. There are a number of home learning tasks, such as:

  • Creating a Facebook conversation
  • Researching the facts and dangers associated with drugs (Class A- B)
  • Evaluating performance work/ self-reflection of WWW/ EBI

Term 3- Greek Theatre and Gang Warfare

This term the pupils explore the original performance conditions of Greek actors as well as the origins of ritual and performance. Coupled with the exploration of modern gang warfare to tie in with the original content of Greek performance, the pupils look at a range of different styles and techniques using a modern narrative. Using the role of the chorus leader and exploring ways in which to adapt unified voice into something more contemporary, the pupils will investigate physical action, the spoken word using music, movement and costume. Home learning will include:

  • Researching Greek Theatre and the Festival of Dionysus
  • Creating a costume design- to include a gang motif for the chorus to wear
  • Writing a song or choral verse to include during the end of term assessment
  • Arranging lunchtime/ after school rehearsals to prepare the work for assessment


Year 9

Term 1: Verbatim Theatre/ The London Riots

As the pupils begin the new academic year, the level of challenge increases to ensure they are fully prepared for the rigour of Drama GCSE. Verbatim Theatre looks at factual information and allows the audience to make an informed decision about the events the play explores. In addition to learning about how to construct a verbatim inspired performance, the pupils also learn about Bertolt Brecht, a revolutionary theatre practitioner who wanted to make his audience think, using strange making techniques and notoriously breaking the fourth wall.

Home learning includes:

  • Reflecting on own practice and the work explored
  • Researching Verbatim theatre
  • Making/ resourcing appropriate props and costume

Term 2: Physical theatre/The dangers of drinking

An extension of the TIE project in Year 8- this time exploring the consequences of alcohol abuse using physical theatre as a style to communicate meaning. The pupils look at a range of techniques to create a non- naturalistic response exploring the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. Later in the term the students then go on to write, learn and perform their own monologue, exploring ways to connect with the audience and sustain a solo performance with intention, believability and sincerity. The students have a choice to continue their exploration of drink driving as a dramatic stimulus or look at ways in which alcohol has impacted on an imaginary character. Both performances are assessed towards the end of the term.

Home learning tasks to include:

  • Research and analyse different drink/ driving campaigns
  • Writing, learning and rehearsing own monologue

Term 3 and 4: Story telling- Little Red

An exploration of Poor Theatre- Teechers/ Bouncers (John Godber) - During Term 3, the pupils learn about how to engage an audience using both the classic and modern adaption of Little Red Riding Hood. The pupils learn about stereotyping and multi- rolling whilst working in smaller groups, understanding how to connect with the audience, whilst broadening the pupil’s appreciation of the social, historical, cultural and political influences explored in devising a theatrical response. In addition to this, the pupils also learn about the art of storytelling, using techniques from The Poor Theatre School allowing a more concentrated focus on the use of physical, vocal and spatial skills, requiring minimal props, lighting and staging. The pupils then explore different interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood to produce their own modern version whilst at the same time demonstrating a development of colloquial language, narration/ active narration to draw their story together.

Teechers/ Bouncers (John Godber) The skills used throughout the devising unit (Term 3) are then applied to a scripted piece that adapts the same principle of Poor Theatre; the objective being to explore the skills of the actor to communicate the multi-rolling style or either play. Both schemes of work link to the assessment objectives of GCSE AQA Drama, where pupils devise their own work as well as prepare script extracts for an assessed performance. As a home learning task the pupils learn their part and include simple costume, stage and light for their final end of term performance.

Home learning tasks include:

  • Scriptwriting
  • Line learning
  • Collating and producing (where necessary) simple props and costume items

Term 5 and 6: Let Him Have It (The last man hanged)

This topic expands over two terms because of the level and depth the pupils go into to explore crime and punishment. The pupils examine the case of the last man hanged, investigating capital punishment and what happened to Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig in 1953. The pupils consider the judicial system, making informed decisions about how different countries around the world manage crime and punishment. The pupils then go onto utilise their research and understanding through an assessed performance demonstrating their personal opinion and contrasting arguments regarding capital punishment. The pupils decide upon the style in which to present their findings; the objective being to entertain as well as educate. The pupils prepare an extended writing piece in response to the stimulus, either as Derek Bentley, his family, members of the public or those involved directly in the case.

Home learning includes:

  • Researching the events leading up to the sentence of Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig.
  • Preparing and presenting a power- point relating to the social, historical, cultural and political aspects relating to the 1950’s.
  • Writing and delivering a monologue as any one of the characters leading up to the imprisonment and execution of Derek Bentley.

The pupils consolidate all prior learning, particularly in terms of performance style; Verbatim, Poor Theatre, Storytelling Theatre.

KS4 Drama

Over the course of the first year, the pupils embark upon two shortened versions of the AQA GCSE Drama course in preparation for the second year where each component unit contributes towards the final GCSE grade. In short:

This qualification is linear. Linear means that students undertake all non-exam assessment (NEA) in the certification year and sit the written exam at the end of the course.

Subject Content

The subject content details the knowledge, understanding and skills that students are expected to develop throughout the course of study. The subject content for GCSE Drama is divided into three components:

1. Understanding drama: Written exam: 1 hour and 45 minutes/ Open book- 80 marks and worth 40% of the overall GCSE. The pupils are assessed on their knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre through the study of one set text from a choice of six; The Crucible, Noughts and Crosses, Hansel and Gretel, The 39 Steps, Blood Brothers and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In this paper, the pupils also need to communicate their analysis and evaluation of live theatre makers. The paper is broken down into three sections:

  • Section A: multiple choice- where students demonstrate their awareness of theatrical staging, space, roles and responsibilities, how theatre is communicated to an audience (4 marks)
  • Section B: four questions on a given extract from the set play chosen (44 marks)
  • Section C: one question (from a choice) on the work of theatre makers in a single live theatre production (32 marks)

2. Devising drama: The pupils are assessed on the process of creating a devised piece of drama, providing a detailed analysis and evaluation of their own work throughout the process. The pupils produce a devising log (60 marks) to support the performance (20 marks), combined to make a total of 80 marks and worth 40% of the overall GCSE. This component is marked by teachers and moderated by AQA. The pupils can specialise in a range of areas to include:

  • Performer
  • Lighting designer
  • Sound designer
  • Set designer
  • Costume designer
  • Puppet designer

3. Texts in practice: The pupils are assessed on the performance of two extracts from the same play (students again may contribute as performer or designer) which must contrast from the set text in Component 1. Each performance extract is awarded up to 20 marks (and worth 40 marks in total) contributing to 20% of the overall GCSE score.  This component is marked by AQA.


KS5 Drama

This qualification is linear. Linear means that students undertake all non-exam assessment (NEA) in the certification year and sit the written exam at the end of the course.

Subject Content

There are 3 components;

1. Drama and Theatre: This unit is designed to develop the student’s knowledge and understanding of how drama and theatre is developed and performed, learning how to analyse and evaluate live theatre. This will involve attending the theatre and the study of two set plays, one pre-20th Century and one from the 20th/21st Century. The pupils will explore context, conventions, form and structure and investigate the theatrical processes and practices involved in interpreting and performing theatre for an audience.

2. Creating Original Drama (devising): This is a practical component where the students will create and develop ideas; communicate meaning as part of the theatre making process, make connections between dramatic theory and practice and apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance.

3. Making theatre (scripted performance): This is a practical component in which the pupils will apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance and analyse and evaluate their own work.


Northampton School for Boys, Billing Road, Northampton, NN1 5RT
01604 230240