Cuts to drama teaching in schools are a scandal, says Lenny Henry

Sir Lenny Henry has criticised cuts in school drama teaching as a scandal as it means children are not being properly prepared for the outside world. The comedian and actor has launched a new National Theatre initiative to encourage better drama and theatre-making in primary schools. The Guardian reports.

“I’m learning there have been massive cuts in teaching the arts in schools and it is cutting off your nose to spite your face. If you are not teaching children how to be creative and curious, what are you preparing them for? You are not preparing them for the outside world,” said Henry.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has condemned as a “national scandal” cuts to music lessons in UK schools. “It is the same thing for drama,” said Henry.

He said there was one rule for private schools, which often have extensive, well-resourced arts lessons, and another rule for all other schools.

Henry launched the National Theatre programme, called Let’s Play, at Hill Mead primary school in Brixton, London.

Lisa Burger, executive director of the National Theatre, said theatre should be available to all children across the UK, but budget cuts and an increasing focus on testing and assessment around literacy and numeracy was squeezing out drama.

“Let’s Play comes from our general concern about the state of drama education in the school curriculum,” she said.

The new initiative is based on an idea from the theatre director Katie Mitchell. It involves the National Theatre commissioning new plays with songs and music for primary aged children to perform.

It hopes to recruit at least 700 schools to the programme over the next three years and train 1,000 teachers. The aspiration is that by 2020, 50,000 pupils will have taken part in Let’s Play.

Read the full article Cuts to drama teaching in schools are a scandal, says Lenny Henry

Are you concerned about the loss of arts education in schools? Would you like to be involved with Let’s Play? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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