Drama Networks – how we can support each other.

How can it survive? Where are the specialists? What is the Ebacc going to do to us? Does the senior leadership value it other than the school production? It’s gone from Key stage 3. I can’t get enough students to warrant a class for A level.

Sound familiar?  Most Drama teachers are in a department on their own working tirelessly and feeling really dejected from all the negative media coverage of their subject. Where do you go for support when you are alone? Enter… Your local drama network. If you have one that is…

Over the last few weeks, through the powers of social media I have tracked down as many networks as I could from the connections I know of following a conversation with Kate Nash and Rosalind Johnson.

If we are to make change we have to see what is happening out there.

I want this blog post to be ever-changing and being constantly updated so please comment below if you are a member of a network that isn’t listed here and I will add it. Likewise please add comments if you are a teacher in an area that needs support and hopefully we can get you connected. 

So here we go:

  1. Northumberland: No network known.
  2. Tyne & Wear: No network known .
  3. Durham: No network known.
  4. North Yorkshire: No network known. See comment below from Elizabeth Vile in Ripon, she would like to connect with colleagues in North Yorkshire.
  5. East Riding of Yorkshire: No network known.
  6. South Yorkshire: Leeds Youth Theatre Network this may only be for youth theatre practitioners but see my comment further down about NAYT.
  7. West Yorkshire: No network known.
  8. Lancashire: No network known. Faye Horrocks who works in Lancashire is keen to start a network – see her comment below. Kerry Tuhill from Action Factory (a community arts charity based in Blackburn) runs a weekly Darwen Youth Theatre for 5 -18 yrs. They have two groups performing in NT Connections at 7.30pm on 13 & 14 May at Bolton Octagon. Please support them if you’re in the area.
  9. Greater Manchester: No network known.
  10. Merseyside: No network known.
  11. Cheshire: Drama and arts teacher network at University of Chester. Also in Cheshire is the Cheshire East Youth Theatre. One of their main hubs is the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe and Hayley Lindley (Youth Theatre and Skills Manager) is currently working with them to start a teachers forum. As well as Minerva Arts run by Steph Brocken they co-ordinate the Lynk Cheshire network that encourages networking between youth arts groups and run a summer project every year.
  12. Derbyshire: No network known but you could travel to Nottinghamshire’s.
  13. Nottinghamshire: Non-such theatre with an event coming up #sharingiscaring at the end May. You can read more about this event here.
    drama unite
    Unite Drama Army, Unite! Nonsuch Theatre are bringing together teachers and facilitators from across the East Midlands.
  14. Lincolnshire: No network known.
  15. Shropshire: Network run by Peter Kennedy. Big Brum TIE in connection with Chris Bolton at Birmingham City Uni have a network to support teachers in Worcestershire, Solihull, Telford and Staffordshire. See comment below.
  16. West Midlands: Network run by Chris Bolton at Birmingham City University. Birmingham Rep Theatre are running this event too don’t miss it read more here.  More information about this event from Chris here: “For those interested in the networking event at the REP on 19th May the agenda is as follows:
    4.00 – 5.15 Bringing Shakespeare to Life workshop (a fun introduction to a few practical approaches to Shakespeare for Drama and English teachers)
    5.15 – 6.15 Discussion and network forum
    6.15 – 7.30 Dinner break
    7.30 Performance of KING LEAR
    Andrew is organising and has asked if you contact him directly if attending and for free tickets to King Lear (1st come 1st served) by 22nd April. Email Andrew.repnetwork
  17. Staffordshire: No known network but you could travel to the Birmingham meeting. Big Brum TIE in connection with Chris Bolton at Birmingham City Uni have a network to support teachers in Worcestershire, Solihull, Telford and Staffordshire. See comment below.
  18. Leicestershire: No known network but you could travel to Non-such theatre.
  19. Rutland: No known network but you could travel to Non-such theatre and also see the comment below from Ria Bower regarding Rutland.
  20. Norfolk: No known network.
  21. Cambridgeshire: No known network but with OCR based in Cambridge they would be interested in finding out if teacher’s need a network to support them. Raeesa Cooke has opened her doors to more than one teacher in the Essex, Cambs and Herts, they meet on a regular basis and have had a few group meetings. I’d be happy to formalise this. We are relatively close to the Saffron Alliance. Can we join up the networks here? Email Raeesa to get in touch.
  22. Northants: No known network.
  23. Warwickshire: No known network.
  24. Worcestershire: Big Brum TIE in connection with Chris Bolton at Birmingham City Uni have a network to support teachers in Worcestershire, Solihull, Telford and Staffordshire. See comment below.
  25. Herefordshire: No known network.
  26. Suffolk: No known network.
  27. Essex: Thurrock schools meet and you can contact Lee Brown. Lee is also very happy to help Drama teachers with industry knowledge regarding Acting, Equity etc. Louise Wilkinson has contacts from across Essex as well as running CPD for teachers and she will be very happy to help. There is also the Saffron Alliance and you can contact Christina Turner for more details – they recently ran a Free CPD session in Braintree. Plus the Billericay schools alliance and you can contact Melanie Jones for more information.
  28. Hertfordshire: No known network. Although the Saffron Alliance (above) might not be too far to travel depending on where you are in the county.
  29. Buckinghamshire: No known network.
  30. Oxfordshire: No known network.
  31. Gloucestershire: The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham meets occasionally but the county also has G15 and there is a Performing Arts group which the Drama department from Millbrook School attends so contact them for more info.
  32. Bristol: No known network but Kate Nash is keen to support a network in the area so please make contact.
  33. Wiltshire: No known network but Kate Nash is keen to support a network in the area so please make contact.
  34. Somerset: No known network.
  35. Berkshire: Kate Norris who is the runs the West Berkshire network. A note from Kate: “Technically I cover West Berkshire, but no other networks in Berkshire, so we’d be very happy to have anyone from Berkshire. We did use to have some Slough schools before my time. It’s CPD so your school has to sign up to the network. It’s a set fee for all the subjects per year. But, given what schools pay for CPD…it’s a bargain! We meet once a term. Great source of support for all HoDs.”
  36. London: London Drama have connections all over the capital please contact them or Liam Harris, Chair at NATD who knows of borough networks. Lauren Overs manages the London Schools Drama Network it is free to be a member – see her message in the comments below. In the borough of Hounslow, Isleworth & Syon School’s Head of Drama Tom McDonnell runs a network for schools. If you work in the borough of Hounslow and would like to network with others get in touch with Tim.
  37. Kent: Kate Egan, Head of Drama at Brockhill Performing Arts College near Folkestone is setting up a network please contact her if you are teaching at a school in Shepway. Leanne Dinsdale in Ashford has been working with other Drama departments and intends to merge with Shepway’s network. Kim Voisey-Youldon in the Thanet area of Kent has commented below and is very keen to support other schools near here. In Tunbridge Wells (West Kent) Trinity Theatre are holding an initial teacher forum – where you can meet with other teachers, staff from Trinity Theatre and other local arts organisations – on Thursday 12th May at 6pm. You can contact Jason Lower, Schools and Learning Officer to find out more.
  38. East Sussex (Brighton and Hove): No known network but Charlotte Grosvenor at Cardinal Newman Catholic School is happy to be a point of contact to support colleagues in Brighton and Hove.
  39. West Sussex: No known network.
  40. Hampshire: Hampshire is lucky enough to have a part-time Drama adviser within the local council so if you are based in Hampshire make use of that resource. The previous adviser is Sarah Reid who recently contacted me regarding tracking down all these networks. I am sure she would be a great contact should you need help. I have found out from Lisa Fernandez that there is a network run by Kevin Baker based at Richard Taunton College so get in touch!
  41. Isle of Wight: No known network.
  42. Dorset: No known network but could attend this conference – Secondary Schools Drama Teachers Conference  ‘The Future of Drama’ happening on 29th June 09.30 – 4pm at Thornlea, New North Road, Exeter University. The University Drama department have several objectives to the day with an optional performance of Shadowlands afterwards at the Northcott Theatre.
  43. Devon: No known network, but could attend the above conference.
  44. Cornwall: No known network, but could attend the above conference.
  45. Surrey: Surrey has a huge network and is thriving, lucky you if you teach in Surrey. Karen Hall runs the network get in touch with her if you aren’t already a member.

The NAYT (National Association of Youth Theatres) they have hundreds of youth theatres up and down the country that work tirelessly. If you find yourself in an area with no network maybe use the search section of the NAYT website and see what is happening in your area and if you can join them for network meetings – they may not provide formal education for young people but fundamentally as teachers and youth theatre practitioners you want the same thing ultimately.

Don’t forget your local Bridge Organisation, Arts Council England funds a network of 10 Bridge organisations who use their experience and expertise (in England) to build on good practice and to broker experiences for children and young people to connect with arts and cultural opportunities.

One of the key areas of the Bridge organisations’ work is to drive participation across their region in Arts Award, so if you offer Arts Award in your school they could help you with that too. Each bridge creates its own offer to support the development of Arts Award within their region.

The 10 Bridge organisations are:

* Norfolk and Norwich Festival covers Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

** Royal Opera House Bridge covers Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, the unitary authority of Medway and the North Kent districts of Dartford, Gravesham and Swale

*** Artswork covers the South East except for the unitary authority of Medway and the North Kent districts of Dartford, Gravesham and Swale

Let’s do this together, as teachers, parents, friends and society. If we can’t help each other who can we help?

Keep in touch and comment below.


17 thoughts on “Drama Networks – how we can support each other.

  1. Hi. I run London Schools Drama Network (LSDN) and I’m in touch with many schools across most north London boroughs. Always happy to accept new members and there is no fee. Run by teachers for teachers.


  2. Would love to be part of a network as I’m a one person department in a small school. My school is based between Ripon and York in North Yorkshire.


  3. Rutland youf artz and Parsnips youth theatre operate in Rutland and Market harborough. We do drama workshops and put on shows for young people 8-18 in age and have been operating for 15 years. While we are not a network, as Rutland specifically is such a small county, it is always nice to know who the other drama people in the area are. We sometimes need specialist tutors or cover teachers for sessions. We are always interested to hear about other dramatic things that are occurring(!) and sharing set/costume is another potential use for us! We also run a PA and lighting company ‘Rocky Road Music’ and can install such equipment in schools and theatres, as well as hire equipment and provide tech engineers for show runs.


    1. Thanks for posting such a helpful post. Non-such theatre company just over the border from you in Nottinghamshire would love to hear from you I’m sure. Are you on twitter Lowcarbred? I’ll connect you both.


  4. I am not part of an official network but I am keen to start a network in the Lancashire area. Happy for people to contact me.


  5. Thanks – this is very helpful. I am also involved in Chris Bolton’s group in the West Midlands, which is a partnership with Big Brum TIE. I would have thought that this could be accessible to teachers from Worcestershire, Solihull and Telford as well as Staffs, though obviously if there were local support networks that would be even better!


  6. This is great, Holly thank you for setting this up! I have been keen to set up a network in the Thanet area of Kent (I’m based in Birchington) and would be happy for people to contact me. I am part of a disjointed drama department where I am the only full time Drama teacher and have 3 teachers from other departments who all teach a little Drama to fill their timetables but have no departmental time for Drama…I’m sure there are many others in a similar position and would love to hear how others overcome the troubles this creates!


    1. Hello Kim, lovely to hear from you. I am sure that you are sadly not the only drama teacher/dept in this situation. Well it’s great to see we have a Thanet potential network, as well as Shepway and Ashford being covered. We will crack it and have Kent covered – I remain positive (as ever!) Thanks for commenting. I will add your details under Kent. Holly x


  7. Hi I’m Rebecca from the West Yorkshire Drama Academy. I set up the academy after my school stopped offering drama lessons at KS3 for those students who wanted to carry on training. I also visit primary and high schools across Kirklees as a drama practitioner. As most know there are so many non specialists teaching drama as its “the easy subject” (even at ks4!) making both teacher and pupil frustrated and unhappy! I’m always looking to connect with people who would like to discuss fresh material we could offer schools? Especially anyone in our area who would like to take performances, workshops and training in to schools with us.


    1. Hi Rebecca, Big Brum isn’t local to you (as the name suggests, we are based in Birmingham), but we do sometimes work ‘out of area’ if you are interested. Moreover, our Drama Educators Community of Practice with Birmingham City University is open online to all – see – if that is any help


      1. Rebecca and Ben, I am so pleased that you are chatting via this post.
        Please keep us posted if things develop – it would be even better to see networks networking together, even better CPD!


      2. That’s a fantastic resource thanks Ben. Your company looks like it’s doing great work, some schools I visit can’t do theatre trips as they don’t have the finances for it so bringing theatre to them is a brilliant option – It’s just finding the right quality of theatre so thanks for connecting!


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