Drama teachers feel “let down” by vague government guidance for performing arts subjects

By Sophie Perry

Drama teachers do not feel the government is providing enough guidance for practical performing arts lessons to run safely in a COVID-19 world.

They say they are unsupported and there is a lack of specific guidance published for this subject by the Department for Education (DfE).

A drama teacher from Wolverhampton, who wished to remain anonymous, does not believe that the government has done enough to ensure practical lessons continue appropriately.

He said: “We have had to take very general information and apply it. I know there are a large number of schools who are not completing practical lessons; however, the GCSE and A-level exam changes require practical performances.

“It is very much a catch-22 if you do not develop the guidelines to fit practical lessons.”

A drama teacher from Bedfordshire, who wished to remain anonymous, also feels the subject area has not received any specific allocations.

She said: “Guidance has been weak or non-existent. You would think after several months the transition would have been straightforward but once again, it is the schools themselves who are taking the limited guidance and making it work for their context and students.”

The government guidance states that whilst performing arts subjects ‘build confidence and help children live happier, more enriched lives’ there may be ‘additional risk of infection in environments where singing, chanting, playing wind or brass instruments, dance and drama takes place.’

The guidance outlines staff leading performing arts subjects must ‘do everything possible to minimise contacts and mixing’, which includes observing social distancing, limiting group activities and preventing physical corrections by teachers.

Several sections of the DfE guidance also asks teachers to turn to guidance from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which is aimed at performing arts professionals instead.

Although the teacher from Wolverhampton believes it is vital to stay positive despite these changes, he feels the situation is increasingly challenging. He said: “Adapting to new guidelines has taken a massive toll on the amount of time planning and editing previous lessons.”

The teacher from Bedfordshire admits she feels confused by such vague guidance. She said: “As a teacher I feel let down and a little neglected.

“Social distancing cannot happen in every classroom. Some schools are simply not big enough. If something were to happen – where do we point the blame?”