Working in a creative department presents very different challenges when compared to other departments across an educational setting. More often the drama department is relatively small in comparison to other curriculum teams within the school and this can often lead to a sense of isolation and an increase in workload.

Networking is therefore essential and this conference aims to bring to together current and aspiring leaders of outstanding drama departments to share best practice in leadership and curriculum delivery.

Offering real solutions for drama leaders and teachers, the conference focuses on the latest  changes in the drama landscape, current leadership issues and challenges,  the crucial importance of shaping an effective drama curriculum to maximise the student experience and outcomes and how to prepare for a deep dive as part of the new Ofsted Framework for Inspection. It will also look at how your vision can be shared to promote a culture of high attainment for all students in both the practical and written components of examination specifications.

The day will be led by  Matt Yeoman (Assistant Headteacher, renowned  lead Drama expert, both nationally and internationally), Tor Cross ( Head of  Arts Faculty, Helsby High School), Rob OttonHead of Drama, Bishop’s Bluecoat CE High School, Cheshire Lead, Open Drama Network), and Special Guest Keynote speaker for the conference is Alex Clifton, Artistic Director, Storyhouse, Chester.


  • Exploring the characteristics and traits of an outstanding leader including strategies to develop mentoring and coaching skills to support ITT students and NQTs
  • Develop a strong understand of the expectations of a subject leader in an Ofsted ‘deep dive’.
  • Explore how to model outstanding teaching and learning across the department
  • Takeaway a raft of strategies to develop resilience in the performing arts during a pandemic
  • Develop an understanding of the practical approaches to obtaining outstanding outcomes from written components of Drama specifications
  • Understand how to develop a high performing culture of engagement in process, reflections and outcomes, supporting students of all abilities and backgrounds to achieve their best.
COURSE DATE Online | Monday 12 July 2021
  • Heads of Performing Arts
  • Heads of Drama
  • Teachers with responsibility for Drama
  • Aspiring/newly appointed Heads of Drama
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance


9.55 – 10.00am:  Welcome and Introduction: Matt Yeoman

10.00 – 10:40am – The Power & Importance of Drama in a Knowledge Rich Curriculum

Alex Clifton, Artistic Director of Storyhouse

  • The importance of drama in a balanced curriculum
  • Giving pupils opportunity to practically learn and develop skills that are transferable and develop the student as a culturally rich individual.

10.40– 10.50am: Questions and Answer Session

10.50 – 11.10am; Morning Break

11.10 -12.00pm:Leading  Drama Through the Current Situationc:

Matt Yeoman, Tor Cross and Rob Otton

  • In this session we will look at the challenges brought on by the latest Ofqual announcements and look at strategies to cope and succeed during these uncertain times. We will explore your own responses and approaches in response to the challenges, as well as plan for future uncertainties to ensure high quality drama provision.

12.00 – 12.50pm  Workshop Strand 1

Session 1A:  Exploring the behaviours of an outstanding and inspiring leader of Drama 

Rob Otton  ( Head of Drama, Bishop’s Bluecoat CE High School, Cheshire Lead Open Drama Network)

  • Key identifiers of outstanding leadership – how to be an outstanding leader of an outstanding department
  • Managing, Inspiring and Leading – you can be all three
  • How to self-evaluate effectively and then use this as a tool for improvement
  • The inclusive department – how to include all students in an aspirational curriculum

Session 1B:  Curriculum Design: It’s the ‘how’, not just the ‘what’ – Matt Yeoman

  • Designing an effective curriculum – it’s not just the what, but the when
  • Cognitive Science and Drama – how to get the best out of curriculum planning to ensure students exam knowledge is secure
  • Success comes from understanding – how to teach for understanding

12.50 – 1.50pm: Lunch

1.50 – 2.50pm: Workshop Strand 2

Session 2A: Preparing for Ofsted: Deep Diving Your department

Matt Yeoman

  • Understanding the ‘Deep Dive’ process and its implications for your department
  • How is your department currently performing? Is it already outstanding? Why? Why not?
  • The knowledge underpinning the process of learning – are all of the team working from the same level of understanding?
  • Ensuring you have the tools necessary to be judged ‘outstanding’

Session 2B: What makes a worthwhile Key Stage 3 Drama Curriculum?

Tor Cross

  • Where can you go with a KS3 Drama curriculum? What are the limits?
  • Defining the range and balance of knowledge and skills needed at this level and their relationship with GCSE needs
  • Intent, implementation, and impact- innovative approaches in the Drama classroom 

2.50 – 3.00pm: Afternoon Tea

3.00 – 3.40pm:    Dealing with Challenge in Drama  – Rob Otton

  • Strategies to support all students in written work
  • Building a positive learning environment in which all students can achieve
  • Restorative practice – how to reengage students in practical lessons

3:40 – 4:00pm: Going Forward and Making Change

Matt Yeoman, Rob Otton, Tor Cross

  • Review of conference content and potential for impact in our schools
  • How in practice, can change best happen?
  • Action plan for the intervention and changes that could be made
  • Q & A

4:00pm: Depart

Alex Clifton is founding Artistic Director of Storyhouse. After graduating with a first in English from Oxford, Alex worked as Assistant Director for The RNT, then became Resident Director at ENO, directing new operas with young offenders, local youth groups and for London schools. Alex left to run his own theatre company, touring new plays across rural & disadvantaged communities. For seven years, Alex was senior acting teacher at RADA. This led to a commission to write a book on acting for Bloomsbury, The Actor’s Workbook. He’s a Fellow of the Institute of Higher Education and has been heavily involved in community and education projects throughout his career, making plays with children in Soweto, teenagers at Theresienstadt concentration camp, parent asylum-seekers in Surrey and elderly immigrant women in Hackney.

Tor Cross is a member of the extended leadership team at Helsby High School in Cheshire. She is an SLE with a huge and broad experience of leading drama in a highly successful drama department. Her creative, innovative and contemporary approaches to teaching drama have led to some exciting projects with students of all ages.

Rob Otton is Head of Drama at The Bishops’ Bluecoat CE High School in Chester. He is a the Cheshire lead for the Open Drama network and has had numerous successes with students at both GCSE and A Level.

Matt Yeoman is the assistant headteacher at Queen’s Park High School in Chester. He holds whole school responsibility for teaching and learning. As a drama teacher with a huge range of experience in training teachers both nationally and internationally, he is passionate about collaborative practice and the sharing of ideas to develop practice