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14 July 2022

Survey of English & Drama teachers uncovers impact of live performance

Beth Morris

Assistant Campaigns Marketing Executive, Digital Theatre+

Teacher stands in front of class

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With dramatic texts making up 25-50% of the GCSE English curriculum, it’s more important than ever to have access to teaching resources that fully support your students and help engage them in the texts you’re teaching.

That said, a study conducted by Shakespeare’s Globe in 2017 found that half of teenagers have never been in a theatre, highlighting the need to understand the barriers that can stop students from being able to see live performances. 

A recent survey conducted by Digital Theatre+ and Gingerbread PR canvassed 250 English and Drama teachers across the UK to find out how impactful access to live or streamed theatre can be within the classroom and the factors that can limit or even prevent student access.

Our findings

By hearing from teachers directly, it was found that access to live or streamed performances helps students to better engage with and understand the texts they are studying:

  • 78% of teachers said students are more engaged with a text after seeing a live or filmed performance
  • 72% of teachers said seeing live or filmed performances helps students to memorise context, meaning and quotes (essential for exams), as well as enabling students to look at the work critically and learn how to evaluate interpretations

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It’s no surprise that access to live performances is extremely beneficial when it comes to studying dramatic texts that were originally intended to be performed. However, results also identified notable factors that prohibit trips to the theatre, including:

  • Cost barriers for schools and parents (identified by 58% of teachers)
  • Time and teacher resource restraints due to the current extra squeeze on arts subjects (identified by 54% of teachers)

In addition, survey participants reinforced the challenges they found when their students were only able to read the dramatic texts they were studying:

  • Issues with attention or sitting still for a long time when reading a text (identified by 52% of teachers)
  • Trouble understanding the language of older texts (identified by 51% of teachers)
  • Boredom and lack of interest (identified by 50% of teachers)

The survey highlights just how essential engagement with the arts is for a balanced and well-rounded curriculum. At Digital Theatre+, we’re committed to making our platform the best option for you as you bring the arts to the forefront of learning.

1600933706402A word from our CEO

“These findings indicate that unless there is a core shift in priority, many students will never have a chance of achieving the best grades they can in the core subject of English.

It is no secret that the Government has chosen an education policy that focuses on STEM subjects to the detriment of the arts – but GCSE English is still considered completely vital in the world – almost all university courses require at least a 4 for a standard pass or 5 for a “strong pass” or higher, and a passing grade is also required by many employers. 

When current English Literature statutory requirements mean that between 25-50% of an English Literature GCSE is based on being able to understand and interpret dramatic texts. And when we have solid proof that the vast majority of English and Drama teachers consider students seeing a live or streamed performance of those texts as essential to their teaching. It is incredibly frustrating to see that, due to budget and time constraints – however, dedicated the teachers – schools are not in a position to help their students achieve the best grades.” 

Neelay Patel
CEO, Digital Theatre+