Major impact on learning needs

Drama workshops may have a positive impact on students with unique learning and emotional needs, a pilot program has found.

The pilot, conducted at two Sydney schools for specific purposes, Woniora Road and Rivendell, where a number of students access the curriculum through Sydney Distance Education High School.

The program aimed to give students a safe environment – through the workshops – to express themselves and experience success.

Sydney Distance Education High drama teacher Kerry McGuire, who devised the program, said it utilised the TheatreSports concept - a form of improvisational role-play - to "develop emotional freedom, problem-solving, lateral thinking and communication skills".

The students worked collaboratively to create and develop a scene based on a topic provided by their audience.

The program's highlights have been captured on a video, which features Woniora Road students in a series of drama workshops on body language, movement, role-play and improvisation, along with an interview with leading psychologist Professor Tony Attwood.

Woniora Road principal Craig Smith said his school had seen the benefit of the students' involvement in the program, both in and beyond the classroom.

 "We have seen an increase in students' attendance, engagement and confidence. Also the students have used these new skills to improve and sustain peer relationships and friendships within the school," he said.

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