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Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

World Class Arena Limited (WCAL) worked for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (Central) and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) to create a business plan for the design and launch of a new, school-based Drama Award for secondary school students.    


The United Kingdom's four Royal Schools of Music and Drama - the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (Central) and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) - agreed to work together to design and launch a new, school-based drama award for young students.

The four organisations were united by a concern that the UK's secondary school curriculum was becoming too narrowly focused, especially as a consequence of the EBacc in England, which emphasises STEM subjects to the detriment of a broad and balanced set of learning opportunities. A significant decline since 2007 in the uptake of school qualifications such as Drama (see below) indicates the extent to which schools and students were being led away from arts and creative subjects. A new Ofsted framework for school inspections from 2019, which includes a focus on the development of character (including leadership, confidence, persistence, problem solving), provided further encouragement to the four organisations to investigate the potential demand for a new form of award.  

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The Requirements

The four Royal Schools commissioned World Class Arena to develop a business plan for a new qualification, designed for learners aged 15-25 and above. The Royal Schools were motivated by a mission to place drama and communication at the heart of education, supporting the development of students’ confidence and resilience by offering opportunities to develop a range of core skills and drama-related competencies:

  • improvisation;

  • reading another person;

  • physical movement, poise and confidence;

  • language and presentation of ideas;

  • command in communication and conveying ideas;

  • self-awareness. 

The business plan was to focus on the initial objective of developing a qualification in drama, the RSD Award at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.  These awards were to be available to all, but initially targeted at schools with students in key stage 4, 6th forms, colleges and youth theatre groups.  

The Royal Schools also asked that the business plan should assess wider and longer-term business opportunities for the award. It was to include a plan for developing the new award; a full financial model, including 3-5 year expenditure and revenue projections; proposals for the creation of a legal entity and its management; a market analysis, covering both demand data and competitor analysis; and a risk assessment.

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Our Solution

World Class Arena worked with the four Royal Schools to develop a detailed Business Case and an accompanying business launch plan. The plan centred around the creation of an award that would be offered at three levels; students would be able to select from core and optional units within each level. A strand of WCAL's work in developing the business plan was to work with RWCMD's experts to develop the assessment framework for some of these core units, developing them sufficiently thoroughly to give clarity and confidence that the assessment model would have integrity, would be robust, would be affordable and would meet the requirements of regulators. A key aspect of this modelling was to determine the practical implications of the assessment - the need for assessors, travel,  and associated costs, for example. WCAL's work also involved an assessment of the extent to which techno 

The RSD Bronze Award

The Bronze Award will be designed with Years 10-11 students in mind, though will be available regardless of age. A distinctive feature of the Bronze award is that the assessment of candidates’ performances will be completed by their own teachers and tutors, who will be trained and accredited by Royal Schools of Drama.

The RSD Silver Award

The Silver Award will be targeted as a qualification of interest to 6th forms, as well as youth theatres and will be designed to support headteachers and heads of 6th form concerned to build the resilience, confidence and communication skills of 16-17 year olds in lower 6th form.

The RSD Gold Award       

The Gold Award will focus on 17-18 year-old students, though will be available to students involved in drama at any ages.  The rigour of the Gold Award will be supported through a final assessment for students during which their performances will be assessed by external, trained RSD Assessors.

The business plan included a substantial market analysis, looking at the potential for the drama award to become commercially established, alongside a detailed competitor analysis. 

The plan also included a draft 5-year implementation plan, describing how the award would be developed and marketed, as well as providing a detailed financial model with itemised investment requirements and financial projections.

It also included a risk analysis.

The Result

The business plan which was presented to the boards of the four Royal Schools as well as forming the basis for presentations to potential investors. The outcome of these discussions is that the plan for the drama awards is now being implemented by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. 

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