The Connected program evolved out of STC’s School Drama™, where Teaching Artists and classroom teachers work alongside each other in a co-mentoring model to explore how drama strategies can support literacy in primary learners. Delivered in partnership with University of Sydney since 2009, the robust research and methodologies underpinningSchool Drama provided a strong foundation forConnected.
The focus of the Connected program is twofold: to improve literacy in English, particularly confidence in speaking; and to increase a sense of community and social wellbeing among participants. Consistent feedback from participants includes that the workshops make learning English fun, the laidback atmosphere facilitates new friendships and overall the experience of taking part is relaxing. The approach focuses on using imaginative stories and folktales to explore character, place and meaning.
“We have really seen great enthusiasm for the project here, primarily for the chance to practise English, but also because our clients have found it enjoyable and a fun way of relaxing and switching off from their worries,” commented Jenny Tracey of Asylum Seekers Centre. “We have seen unusual friendships formed without common languages, and I think that is down to the drama group – it is a safe way of getting to know others and find a common thread to connect.”
The pilot phase of the program is currently funded by City of Sydney and STC donors, and has reached over 100 participants. Ongoing research and evaluation will be conducted in partnership with Western Sydney University and University of Sydney.