How RSC approaches have helped one school engage with parents.
Crook Primary School is in an area of deprivation, high unemployment and low aspirations. Introducing Shakespeare to its pupils was seen as somewhat of a challenge.
Teacher, Barbara Gentles, explains that perhaps the significant barrier to teaching Shakespeare was the reluctance of parents in the relevance of teaching Shakespeare. This hostility often came from their own negative experiences of learning Shakespeare at school.
However, Barbara realised that the best way to tackle these attitudes was by providing Shakespeare lessons that were steeped in the RSC’s rehearsal room approaches, and which culminated in a performance for parents. She explains, "Children were so enthusiastic about the new Shakespeare lessons they engaged their parents in conversations about them regularly, some parents reporting that their child had never volunteered information about lessons before."
Since then, there has been a complete reversal in attitudes towards Shakespeare. "The children were eager for their Shakespeare lessons and their passion and enthusiasm convinced parents that something important was happening in their child’s education. The current situation is a total reversal, whereby parents now complain to staff if their child is not timetabled for regular Shakespeare lessons," says Barbara.
In attending the Associate Schools Regional Shakespeare Festival last year, Fiona Clayton, Programme Lead at the RSC commented, "You can see that these children have Shakespeare in their bones". This is evident, as the Associate Schools programme has had positive effects that spread curriculum wide. Barbara tells us, "The result of this work has been phenomenal in all eleven schools. Shakespeare is taught regularly in all schools and RSC rehearsal room techniques have become embedded into the curriculum and used across other subjects, particularly Literacy, History, Geography, Computer Studies, Physical Education and Science."
This is an edited version of the full case study. You can read the full version here: Crook Primary School Case Study