Being Head of Drama is a unique role. It comes with a set of complications that makes it different to other departments and subject areas.
There are so many things to balance when being Head of Drama. You need to plan and manage a curriculum with less contact time than other subjects have. Heads of Drama are quite often working alone in one-person departments or working with one or two non-specialist teachers. who don’t invest their time into the drama department like they do in their own department. As Head of Drama you have to coordinate more extra-curricular activities and trips than most departments. We have to do all this while we are still held accountable to our results, our development plans and our policy setting.
Even though I’ve been a Head of Drama for 15 years I still need reminding of what is important in the role and how to fulfil it to the best of my ability. I’ve curated a list of five areas of focus that will help you the confidence to succeed as Head of Drama.
Take stock of the teaching and learning strengths and areas of development within your department.
Consider your own strengths of teaching, both style and content and compare those to other teachers in your department. Assign roles across your department according to these strengths. Consider how the areas of development will be tackled. When working as a team, not everyone has to be the best at everything. Instead individuals can focus on developing in different areas to each other.
Have a clear plan
Know what you want to achieve and work towards it. Consider whether you want to be notorious for having a strong Key Stage 3 curriculum, for having a broad syllabus at Key Stage 4 or for your use of physical theatre. Have a vision for how you want your department to grow in the next 3 to 5 years time and create a realistic plan to achieve that vision.
Establish and review the impact of the monitoring cycle
With a plan in place you need to establish a robust cycle of monitoring and evaluation. This will help you to optimize on the strengths of your department, while working the areas of development. Make sure that you have time specific moments in your plan when you can identify the progress and put in place any new key actions that need to be in place. Once a monitoring cycle is in place, you can work alongside the SLT to review its impact.
Communicate with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT)
The fact that you are the leader of a small department does not mean that you have any less status than other middle leaders. You carry the same or similar responsibilities as they do and are held to account in exactly the same way. Your SLT will not hold you accountable in a different way to the Head of Science or the Head of English. Why should you feel or act as if you are any less than them in meetings and in dealings with your SLT. Keep in constant contact with your SLT. Ask them for feedback on your ideas, to help you track your plans and to give you guidance if there is a problem.
Finally, own drama and represent it well! Your passion and energy for Drama is the face and voice of Drama for others to see. Be seen, be heard and make your opinions part of the discussion within the school.
To conclude, whether you are an experienced Head of Drama or new to it, there is always something to learn, a challenge to face or threat to overcome. As subject leader of Drama you must remain reflective. You must remember that you don’t hold all the answers and to ask for help if you need it. And you need to have faith in your own abilities and status within the school. That way you can shape the way Drama’s taught in your school and provide the very best Drama education to your students.