Theatre in Education Provides Fun & Learning

Loudmouth started in 1994, with a desire to use drama as a powerful and safe way to help children and young people gain honest, appropriate and accessible forms of sex education. The company works both nationally and internationally, and has reached over a quarter of a million young people delivering up to 900 sessions each year.

What was the identified need?

Loudmouth identified that the sex education in schools was very inconsistent and patchy. We knew from our own experiences and from talking to teachers that sex education tended to focus on the biological aspects and shied away from the real day to day experiences and dilemmas that young people faced. We saw a need and a way to use drama to engage young people in looking at relationships and emotional aspects of health. Drama provides a very safe way to look at issues in a way that is non-confrontational and avoids disclosure or embarrassment.

How was the need understood in more depth?
Loudmouth has always placed emphasis on research and collaboration to keep the work fresh and accurate. This initially involved links with local health promotions and this has continued to develop so that our main contacts and partners are health and education organisations rather than arts organisations. The work is constantly updated with research with young people and continual evaluation and feedback to ensure the approach and content are effective.

The approach
Loudmouth offers a number of different age appropriate programmes on a range of issues. These start with work on issues such as bullying, positive relationships, puberty and transitions in primary schools and developing through key stages 3 and 4 including work on contraception, teenage pregnancy, alcohol, domestic violence and sexual exploitation. The core of all of the programmes is to help all children and young people to have happy, healthy and safe lives. Most programmes last around 2 hours and work with a class sized group.

Evidence of the impact of the programme on participants
Evaluations show that Loudmouth's programmes increase knowledge of sexual health issues and services, develops empathy and increases confidence in seeking help. A recent evaluation report showed that 96.3% of young people rated Loudmouth's sessions as better than their usual PSHE lessons.

How the work complements wider PSHE / SRE delivered in the school
Loudmouth works with schools, closely adhering to policies and working with staff so that the drama and workshop sessions are not a one off or stand-alone activity. Each of the theatre in education programmes come with a series of lesson plans to allow schools to build the work into their on-going PSHE / SRE.

In addition to this, staff training sessions and presentations for parents compliment the school's whole school approach, raising awareness and developing skills and relationships to enrich SRE provision. The approach is proven to increase teaching staff's confidence in teaching about issues such as puberty.

The sessions for parents provide an opportunity for parents to be involved in the school's PSHE programme, ask questions about the content and explore ways to use the drama to help them talk to their children about sex and relationships. Between 90 and 100% of parents are behind this approach and would recommend that their schools continue to use Loudmouth's work.

Key Features

  • Class-size groups to maximise interaction and engagement.
  • The drama is a relatively small part of the work with around two thirds of every session built around discussion and exploration of the ideas and learning from the drama.
  • All of the programmes are well researched. A lot of development and work goes into the writing and performance to ensure quality with humour used where appropriate to create a fun environment to learn.
  • Provides strong links with partner support agencies with clear signposting throughout the session which is then reinforced by cards handed out at the end and online links and support.
  • Each programme comes with a term's worth of lesson plans to help staff to build the work into a whole term's SRE programme.

Quote from key contact/young person/ senior official

  • "I learned without realising I was learning" - Young person
  •  "A superb performance which totally engaged all the children. Fun and sensitive approach to teaching . Perfectly complimented our PSHE and SRE curriculum. Group discussions were relaxed and comfortable. All children confident to offer thoughts. Would have again to use as a follow up as it helps children to put into real life context." - Headteacher
  •  Excellent, well structured and interactive way to explore bullying and domestic abuse. A really good way to connect with sensitive issues.

Strategic Director - Children, Young People & Families

Loudmouth's work has been praised in the 2009 Birmingham City Council's scrutiny committee report into sex and relationship education.

Loudmouth was a finalist for the 2012 Pamela Sheridan Award for Innovation in SRE. 

Loudmouth Education and Training,
Twitter: @LoudMouthUK