Gloucester Schools' Partnership
Every year since 2010 a group of primary schools in Gloucester has staged a Shakespeare Festival. The number of schools involved has grown from the original ten to over twenty and has also included schools from France and Bulgaria. The original ten schools have remained involved in the Festival, with a vote being held each year to choose next year's play.
The annual festival started when Widden Primary School joined the RSC Learning and Performance Network in 2009. It is a multi-ethnic school with approaching four hundred pupils, most of whom have English as an Additional Language (EAL).
Next year's two-day Festival, to take place in March 2014, will be Macbeth. In one of three separate productions each school will perform a different scene. Following the original model, all the staff from the participating schools takes part in training to prepare them to direct an ensemble performance of young people and to give them an understanding of the principles behind the LPN.
The festival venue is on The Park campus of the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham and trainee teachers from the University have become involved within the schools of the Gloucester Schools' Partnership, as well as receiving training in the methodology driving the Shakespeare Festival.
The Partnership now plans to involve secondary schools so that the work done in the primaries is continued into the next phase and secondary staff become aware of the active approaches to teaching Shakespeare used in primary schools.
What has changed?
- A growing community of primary schools now experience and perform Shakespeare's work annually
- Over 500 young people now encounter Shakespeare each year - over 2,000 in total
- At least twenty teachers each year develop their skills in teaching and directing Shakespeare, whilst those teachers not directly involved in the Festival productions still develop the skills and techniques involved in the work
- A diverse range of Shakespeare's plays are experienced by members of the wider community each year
- A partnership has been formed with the University of Gloucestershire, linking schools and their communities with a higher education institution