Drama - creating a better future - Hurstpierpoint College

Drama – creating a better future

Luke Gasper, Director of Drama at Hurst College explains why studying drama arms students with the soft skills necessary for success in the workplace.

When Fifth Form students begin to weigh up their A-level options, they are bombarded with advice from teachers, careers advisors and parents alike. Very often this becomes the basis for perhaps the most important decision that they have had to make as far as their educational life is concerned.

Students need to carefully consider which subjects will best facilitate their chosen pathway, the balance between their short-listed subjects and if their eventual choice of subjects will be those that universities will favour.

This is a dangerous time for the 16+ age group, with increased pressure being applied in schools, coupled with the reality of how expensive university education has become – adding even greater pressure to the next generation of young adults.

There can be little objection to the view that the emphasis in schools has firmly shifted towards the core subjects in recent years. But at what cost to the overall educational experience?

In amongst the reforms lies an unchanging mantra when it comes to the role of the teacher. We are here to help students build their future and enable them to take brave and informed decisions that are right for them. This generation will face the most competitive employment environment ever and it will be the small margins that help them progress.

Studying drama at any level allows students to make cognitive and physical connections with the world around them in a variety of mediums, with no fear of being right or wrong. The range of skills experienced in a single lesson provides students with tools that will inevitably be used in other situations. It is these skills that employers refer to as soft skills – the personal attributes, traits, inherent social cues and communication abilities – that are needed for success in the workplace. Soft skills characterise how a person interacts in their relationships with others and, unlike job-specific skills, are much harder to learn in most classroom environments.

The teaching and studying of drama in schools naturally exposes students to every aspect of the soft skills definition and engaging with them at a young age prompts a far more instinctive young adult. Whether through improvisation, or engaging with a character in a script, a drama student must employ imagination in their work and be brave in making decisions that an audience can engage with.

Some students are more naturally able to perform than others but that is not the purpose of drama from a curricular point of view. Over the course of an academic year, each student is able to progress even if that is simply engaging with others in a more confident manner. To truly develop these skills takes time. Too often, drama is seen as a subject for younger students that is replaced by other subjects later in their school career, when these skills should actually be honed further from 13+ onwards.

With a foundation of creativity established, the GCSE and A-level courses enable students to tackle the more complex elements of the subject. These include knowledge and understanding of history, philosophy, language, literature, maths, science as well as the other creative arts. The typical drama student must be able to access knowledge of these subjects at all times but can do so with a far more creative and expressive approach.

On a number of occasions, I have heard drama in the curriculum described as a soft subject. Ironic, in many ways, that such a subject naturally induces the soft skills that may well provide a young adult with their first steps into professional life. It is vital that schools do everything they can to preserve this – and all other creative subjects in the classroom – if they are genuinely working towards creating a better future for their students.

Please follow the links below for further information about Hurst College, an independent, co-educational, day and flexi/weekly boarding school for pupils aged 4–18, located just to the north of the village of Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.

Prep & Pre-Prep
Senior School
Sixth Form
College Campus

Hurst College’s inspection reports and reviews:
ISC Inspection reports
Good Schools Guide