by Mark Wheeller, with Scheme of Work by Karen Latto.

The opening epitomises just how personal and emotive Drama is an art form and the very topic of anorexia is approached with a caring and thoughtful mind-set – the very way every teacher delivering this play would need to approach it. Mark Wheeller is someone Drama teachers should take great pride in teaching. He was one of us – a Drama teacher who took a vested interest in the stories that affect young people and wanted to create work that inspired them whilst revolving around them. I find it strange when others feel the need to criticise or pass comment on being a “proper” playwright – surely there is nothing more “proper” than a passionate Drama specialist who creates work through an organic rehearsal process with young people for other young people to benefit?

The personal and emotive strand remains throughout particularly in the use of quotes from the original 1980’s students. The viewpoints they share adds another level of insight into the play. The coverage of the Social, Historical and Cultural context is particularly helpful for teachers coupled with the details included from the 1980’s health professionals that supported Mark in creating the production.

Although this book is written with the intention of supporting teachers with the written exam the diary and notes of the explorative/research/devising process that Mark and his students underwent are invaluable to share with students as an approach for the devising module of work that also needs to be undertaken for the new 9-1 GCSE.

My only slight criticism would be the ease of navigating key information within what are very long chapters. Subheadings are used within the chapters and having those subheadings in the chapter contents e.g. Chapter 3 contains information on characterisation would have been helpful.

The final chapter by Karen Latto is every teacher’s dream – a Scheme of work for delivering a set text with the option to purchase student workbooks! The introduction is very clear and grounds itself within the specification and curriculum requirements. Karen’s tone of being supportive and creative without making work for works sake comes across strongly throughout. The long and short term planning with the optionality of homework, the flexibility to elongate or reduce the SoW with the option to adjust for different lesson lengths is excellent. It’s so useful to have a workbook that’s constructed in the same order as the scheme of work – logical of course, but not everyone would have ensured that format. The A5 workbook then acts as a neat and concise revision book for students with a pouch in the back for additional notes to be stored.

Review by Susan Elkin