Drama as a school-based curriculum – Star ACTtituDE

Tampines Primary School achieved the niche status for Drama as a school-based curriculum in 2013. Drama as a school-based curriculum covers several perspectives: drama as an art form, drama and thinking, drama and communication skills, drama and social emotional learning, drama and citizenship and drama as pedagogy. The integration of drama in each of these perspectives contributes to the development of the Desired Outcomes of Education; confident person, concerned citizen, self-directed learner and an active contributor. 



In 1997, Ministry of Education (MOE) introduced “Thinking Schools,Learning Nation” (TSLN) an initiative which provides direction to the transformation in the education system in recent years. “Teach Less, Learn More” (TLLM) builds on the groundwork laid in place by the improvements made under the TSLN vision. TLLM continues the TSLN journey by focusing on improving the quality of interaction between teachers and learners, so that our learners can be more engaged in learning. TLLM is about shifting the focus from “quantity” to “quality” in education. TLLM aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning. It is about teaching better, to touch the hearts and engage the minds of our learners and prepare them for life, rather than teaching more, for tests and examinations.

First Phase : TLLM Drama Activist & Drama as a Vehicle to promote learning

In order for TLLM to be effective, teaching and learning in the classroom should be guided by a set of principles. In Tampines Primary School, the Practices of Effective Teaching and Engaged Learning (PoETEL) was developed to impact classroom instruction. PoETEL is made up of five key domains:


(a) Learning Outcome – refers to the identified set of skills, knowledge, attitude and/or understanding that a pupil is able to demonstrate as a result of the involvement in a particular set of educational experiences.


(b) Content refers to the “What we teach”. It is the specific set of skills, knowledge, attitude and/or understanding related to the learning outcomes that the pupil acquires.


(c) Process – refers to the “how of learning” (Costa & Liebmann, 1996). Process is also about the way instruction is delivered to enable pupils to learn.


(d) Intellectual Climate – refers to the classroom environment that promotes deep thinking and active learning. It involves acquisition of metacognitive skills – the ability to think about your own thinking or thought processes.


(e) Social Emotional Climate – refers to a safe and supportive classroom climate that promotes interaction, fosters teamwork and celebrates diversity. The tone of the environment of learning encourages students to learn with and from one another, take ownership of their own learning, be positive and motivated towards learning and be passionate about learning.


The five domains of PoETEL have been conceptualized to form the basic structure of what needs to take place in the classroom in order for effective teaching to occur. These five domains are consciously planned for in every lesson to ensure quality teaching and learning. Teachers look into the holistic development of the child during the lesson. They use more varied methods of teaching like group work strategies and peer coaching to bring about effective and engaged learning. The way a child understands a concept is not just through the filling in of worksheets but also through experiential learning and inquiry-based learning. The school adopted a Teach Less Learn More activist structure to support the TLLM initiative. The role of the TLLM activist is to role model quality teaching through pedagogical tools such as scientific inquiry based learning, genre-based writing tool or drama as a pedagogy. In 2006, a TLLM Drama Activist was appointed. The teacher who had taken up the position was a graduate with Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Drama and Drama Education from the National Institute of Education. The teacher also pursued her Masters Degree in Drama in Education in 2007.The role of the drama activist is to use drama as a pedagogy in the delivery of core subjects like the English Language and Science. The drama activist plans and delivers the drama lessons to Primary 3 to 5, infusing drama as a tool in the delivery of subject matter and skills in Social Studies(SS), Science and English Language (EL) respectively. Each drama lesson is taught weekly for an hour during the SS or EL curriculum period. Using the PoETEL teaching and learning framework, drama lessons are consciously planned according to the five domains.

Second Phase : Drama and Character Education

The school’s research in 2006, shows evidence that a teacher’s lesson delivery can contribute to the social emotional climate in the classroom. Part of the research looks at a series of drama lessons using “Practices of Effective Teaching and Engaged Learning” (PoETEL) as a teaching and learning framework and its impact on pupils’ engagement in learning. From the school research, drama in education serves as an effective pedagogy to enhance the social emotional climate in the classroom. To further promote drama as an effective pedagogy in character development, the school embarked on a research to develop a character development rubric assessing character development. Drama is a powerful vehicle for character development because pupils go through experiences in an imaginary context which encourages them to develop a sense of trust and enables them to express themselves and evaluate their actions.


Third Phase : Drama as a school-based curriculum

Having implemented drama as pedagogy from 2006, the school has looked into developing a school-based drama curriculum. The curriculum takes a look at the progression of drama skills and communication as well as thinking skills development from Primary 1 to 6. There is also an emphasis on character and citizenship education for the pupils’ holistic development.


Character Development – ACTtituDE

A Character Turnaround and Transformation inspired through Drama in Education (ACTtituDE) is a character development programme which was implemented in 2007. The customised school programme looks into how a pupil’s  character is shaped, thinking nurtured and values instilled through drama as a pedagogy. At the end of the eight-week programme, the pupils are assessed using a customised rubric, consisting of SEL and Habits of Mind components. ACTituDE aims to instill social emotional learning competencies in the pupils. They are self-awareness, relationship management and responsible decision making. The drama lessons also inculcate Professor Art Costa’s Habits of Mind especially in the following areas:

  • creating, imagining and innovating
  • thinking interdependently
  • thinking flexibly

Drama & National Education

National Education themes are embedded in the drama curriculum since 2006 through the integration with Social Studies topics. Pupils find meaning in the historical context through the drama lessons. Engagement in the lessons allows the pupils to experience what it was like in the past through drama conventions. With the inclusion of a broader scope of topics, citizenship education has also been infused under:

  • sense of belonging
  • friendship
  • power and responsibility
  • contributions to the community 


Drama and Communication Skills: One of the aims of drama in education is to develop a confident person. Drama helps to make meaning for the pupils and pupils express through verbal and non-verbal ways when they communicate to their classmates. Drama makes use of language within a fictional context so that pupils can use the language in purposeful ways for making and communicating meaning. This aspect of drama has led to the introduction of drama strategies and conventions in the different mother tongue language classrooms. The Mother Tongue department’s Bi-Cultural Programme will be leveraging on drama as a school-based curriculum to deepen pupils’ appreciation of Language and Culture. Learning from their experiences in the adoption of the drama strategies, techniques and conventions the practice will be shared with the pupils.


Drama as an art form: Drama skills are being infused in the learning of English Language. These drama skills are the skills that are adopted by the pupils as they go through the elements of drama.


Drama and Thinking: In line with MOE’s vision of “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation”, our education system provides a platform to nurture thinkers. Our school has developed the Practices of Effective Teaching and Engaged Learning (PoETEL) and within the framework, one of the domains is “intellectual climate.” This domain of intellectual climate requires teachers to consider that learning “involves acquisition of metacognitive skills – ability to think about your own thinking or thought processes.” Drama promotes thinking through perspective taking and active learning. Pupils in the drama lessons are active participants in shaping the lesson and creating meaning for themselves. Drama provides the platform for students to think and create. 

Theatrics in Action!

The school has introduced several platforms to cater to the pupils with greater interest and aptitude as they are talent scouted into 'Theatrics in Action!' also known as the school’s drama club, with opportunities to perform in Community Theatre.  Our status as the first community school in Singapore affords us the advantage to draw the community closer and contribute to the community through our drama efforts. Our inaugural Community Theatre involved a collaboration with Ageless Theatre and dealt with the issues of aging and became one of our Values in Action when we worked hand in hand with Tampines West CC to invite the elderly residents within the community to watch free. Last year, we included drama workshops for our strategic partners – the parents –and the parents have acted alongside their children in our second Community Theatre “Excuse Me is this a Good School?” Teachers came on board as actors in the production. The cast comprised of pupils , teachers and parents working collaboratively. It is through our Community Theatre efforts that we see value to help the community understand hot button issues on the importance of family, community and country.


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Our teacher actors  in “Excuse me, is this a good school?”

Members of Theatrics in Action! in “Click to Disconnect” 

Our parent actor in role as Mdm Podcheri in “Excuse me, is

this a good school?”



Drama Approach

drama approach


Drama Protocol

FOCUSdrama focus
LISTENdrama listen
ACTdrama act
SYNTHESISEdrama synthesise



drama chart

Drama Progression Outcomes


 By the end of Primary 2By the end of Primary 4By the end of Primary 6
CreatePupils imagine, create and accept roles while participating in drama activitiesPupils participate in drama activities and develop ideas; problem solve using drama strategies and conventions and  negotiate, in and out of role, a range of situations and narrativesPupils choose the elements of drama and drama techniques toshape group improvisations and role-plays using values like care and cooperation.
PerformPupils get involved in drama with others by taking part, listening and observing othersPupils present to one another their story of dramatic action using drama elements like sound and movement so that they are aware of an audiencePupils rehearse and present devised and scripted drama using performance skills like voice, sound and movement appropriate for the narrative context.
RespondPupils share with one another their feelings experienced during their drama activities and share their ideas with each other.Pupils describe drama experiences and presentations, expressing opinions and exchanging viewpoints with othersPupils express their opinion about their own and others’ presentation or performance, giving feedback about the application of the drama elements.