Drama lives inside all of us. It naturally occurs as an impulse in the way we use our words, express our language, convey our ideas and share our stories. The study of Drama as a curriculum subject in the Senior School at Dulwich Puxi puts a spotlight on developing excellent communication skills.

Our weekly drama lessons give students the opportunity to collaborate, to communicate ideas and feelings, and to consider cultural differences in communication. Importantly, the study of Drama strongly encourages students to become risk takers – to step out of their comfort zones, and into the spotlight. Expressing ideas or conveying a story to an audience takes bravery and practice. These are essential skills for life and require risk taking for many young students.

Dulwich College Puxi Drama Curriculum is led by Drama and Theatre studies specialist, Ms. Jessica Ivey. Jessica is very familiar with London’s west-end theatres, working closely with them to create curriculum plans for UK schools. She is also a certified Google educator and continually updates her teaching style to incorporate new technologies that help her Drama students learn effectively in our fast moving world.

Here is Jessica sharing a spotlight on the Dulwich Drama curriculum, and what her year groups have been focused on:


The Year 6 Drama curriculum has been focusing on how to create characters. Students are enjoying this because they get to experiment with a range of movement and voice techniques in order to help them create characters very different from themselves. On the other side of this is the challenge to empathize with characters very different from themselves.

Year 7 have been learning how to stage a scene. They are focused on how to create interesting dynamic scenes for an audience which can hold their audiences’ attention. Students are enjoying this because they have the autonomy to decide where their scenes are set and who the characters will be. At the same time, students are also challenged by their new skill acquisition requiring them to collaborate with others as well as think on their feet.

Year 8 Drama lessons have been focused on how to create tension for an audience through use of pace, pause and proxemics. Students are enjoying this because they use their imaginations to come up with ways to manipulate an audience’s emotions and expectations. Students are finding this challenging because they have to constantly think about symbolism and sightlines.

With Year 9 we have been studying the practitioner, Stanislavski and his style of theatre, Naturalism. Students are enjoying this because they can see examples of his style in the television and films that they watch, linking their learning to their wider life experience. This work challenges the students with complex theories and vocabulary consolidating their practical explorations.

As a teacher of Drama, Jessica is very comfortable under the spotlight and here she tells us about her own teaching style and approach to learning:

JI: I model everything in my class for students first as I know that imitation is key for personal development. I also would not ask anything of my students that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. In my lessons you will find me encouraging but also challenging my students as without challenge, there is no real room to grow.

What is your favourite aspect of teaching?
JI: My favourite moment in teaching is what I call the ‘aha moment’. It’s the moment when a student gets an aspect of their work that they have recently struggled with. I love that I am able to share in their excitement when they connect with, and overcome a challenge.

What is the most important thing for students to remember in your lessons?
JI: The most important things for students to remember is that they are part of a bigger picture. Learning in my classrooms, and throughout our lives, requires being aware of cultures, life experiences and opinions that may be different to our own. 

How do you hope to make a difference?
JI: I can only hope that I will be able to help students to believe in themselves. The only way we can learn, improve and help others to grow is to first see the value and potential that we hold in ourselves. 

Getting better never stops. What are you looking forward to learning more about?
I am excited to learn more about how to incorporate new technologies into the classroom. I am a google certified educator in the UK and I am intrigued to see how I can use different technologies in order to enhance students’ learning in the modern world. And of course, I could also benefit from brushing up on my Mandarin!

Why Shanghai?
Before Dulwich, I was living and teaching in London. I loved it there but after 7 years, I was looking for a new challenge. I have many Chinese friends and they assured me that coming to Shanghai would hold the familiar comforts of a big cosmopolitan city like what I am used to, as well as offering me new experiences and challenges. They couldn’t have been more right!