Drama is important for young people in so many ways.

It is a great educational tool, for a start. Even a simple role play delivered in class can be really effective in teaching pupils about a new topic.

This is particularly true in history, where transcripts of trials, enquiries and conferences can be used to good effect. Re-enacting history impresses upon pupils the human nature of what they are studying.

Then there is the quality of committing information to memory. Learning lines is never easy, but it is good discipline and aids mental organisation. Pupils will develop strategies to help them retain a large amount of complex information and this will help them in later life.

Ham & High: Richard Berlie says that drama teaches pupils many skills for lifeRichard Berlie says that drama teaches pupils many skills for life (Image: St Anthony's Boys School)

Rehearsing also teaches skills. Following a rehearsal schedule leading up to the opening night of a performance allows pupils to track progress towards an objective.

Is everything on track for the first performance? If not, why not? Is the rehearsal time being used to good effect? Can anything be done differently? Shouldn’t the actors have learnt their lines by now?

During rehearsals, pupils will learn to interact with others. They will learn good conversational skills, listening to what the other person has to say before getting in their reply.

Live performances are often daunting for pupils, performing in front of their peers, teachers and parents. What will they do if something goes wrong?

The ability to bring a performance back on track in the event of disruption, whether it be someone not coming on at the right time, someone forgetting their lines or a prop falling over, is a vital skill.

Adaptation is another skill. After the opening night, the performance needs to be reviewed. What went well? What could have gone better?

In all, therefore, drama is an essential part of the school curriculum, serving to educate pupils and teaching skills such as memorisation of material, interaction with others, planning, adapting, performing under pressure and reviewing events in the light of experience.

If anyone seeks to maintain that drama is merely a hobby, an optional extra, as it were, then disabuse them of this!

  • Richard Berlie is the headmaster at St Anthony's School for Boys in Hampstead.