RSC at the House of Lords

RSC at the House of Lords – A celebration of its inspirational educational work

An innovative partnership with University of Warwick - announcement of plans for a major new Centre for Teaching Shakespeare

In its 50th Birthday year, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) was invited by Liberal Democrat Peer, Baroness Sally Hamwee to celebrate its inspirational Education work at The House of Lords on Tuesday 10 May.

The event will be attended by over 130 guests including Members of Parliament, peers from across the house, representatives from funding bodies, donors, teachers, students, board members and representatives from the University of Warwick.

Dr Anthony Seldon from Wellington College is the main guest speaker. He will be joined by the RSC's Artistic Director Michael Boyd and Executive Director Vikki Heywood.

The 30 minute event will also include young voices - a hip-hop response to Shakespeare from emerging spoken word artist Toby Thompson, a talk from two members of the RSC's Young Company about their relationship to Shakespeare and an extract from King Lear performed by students from Isleworth and Syon Boys School and directed by RSC ensemble member Kelly Hunter (Goneril in the company's current production of the play).

Vikki Heywood, along with Warwick's Vice Chancellor Nigel Thrift, Dean of Warwick Business School, Professor Mark Taylor and Professor of Creativity Jonothan Neelands will announce plans for the RSC/Warwick Centre for Teaching Shakespeare, a unique collaboration between the two organizations which will offer on-line and residential courses to teachers in the UK and across the world. The centre will open for business in 2012 with the ambition to transform the learning experiences that young people in the UK and across the world have of Shakespeare's plays in schools.

Artistic Director, Michael Boyd will outline the company's vision for the future and the role he feels the company can play within the education system:

'We've worked with 250,000 children and young people and 25,000 teachers over the past ten years. There are 11 million children in the education system right now. The one thing they all have in common, the one irrefutable truth, is that they are all, at some point, going to have to study Shakespeare.'

'We genuinely think we've got something to offer schools and teachers and students and we just want to do more of it. Through our education programme we put all the things we've learned and continue to learn about the plays that we perform every night on our stages into use in classrooms.'

'We have created a post graduate certificate in the teaching of Shakespeare with the University of Warwick. 97% of teachers who take the course complete it. This can be compared to a national average completion rate for post graduate qualifications of around 40%.'

'Of the teachers who have worked with us, 43% of them have gone on to receive promotion. We're delighted that more of this work is going to be available to teachers across the world through our new partnership with Warwick.'

'Our message to government today is that we want to get closer to the curriculum, not further away from it. Words like assessment and standards and attainment don't frighten us. Shakespeare is both a cultural entitlement and a curriculum requirement for students. We want to be an active collaborator on the curriculum and the assessment of the teaching and learning of Shakespeare in order to play our part in ensuring that every single child in this country can choose to develop a life-long relationship with his work.'

Anthony Seldon added: 'Shakespeare is not just for the bright children – it is for every single child at school. Of course we want our children to do the best they can when they are examined on Shakespeare, but let's also recognise the transformative power that Shakespeare's work has and the very real impact he can have on the lives and experiences of young people.'

For further information please contact Nada Zakula in the RSC Press Office on 01789 412622 (07831 766086) or nada.zakula@rsc.org.uk

Date of issue: Monday 9 May 2011

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Teaching Shakespeare