Associate Schools Programme

The Associate Schools programme is our long-term partnership programme with schools and regional theatres across England.

The programme is open to primary, secondary and special state-maintained schools in England, with a specific focus on schools serving areas of socio-economic disadvantage. It is built around the principle of schools working in local partnerships to develop communities of practice.

Each local partnership consists of a Lead Associate School, who in turn recruits up to ten Associate Schools. In many cases, these local partnerships include a regional theatre as well as the RSC. See the below list of our Associate Regional Theatres and Lead Associate Schools.

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Lead Associate Schools

Lead Associate Schools will have prior experience of working with the RSC before taking on this role. They take on a leadership role because they have already seen and experienced the impact of Shakespeare's work and RSC approaches on students and teachers in their school.

If you are interested in becoming a Lead Associate School but have had relatively little contact with us, we would first ask that you experience the range of work we offer and test that our approach is right for you. Over time, you will then be able to confidently speak about the impact the work has had on students, teachers and the wider school community. This is a pre-requisite for our Lead Associate Schools. If you have already experienced our work, please email to explore how your school's engagement might develop further.

Lead Associate Schools are appointed for a two-year period with the opportunity to renew and extend their involvement at the end of this time.

Read advice from one of our current Lead Associate School headteachers about getting involved in the Associate Schools' programme: A Headteacher's Advice


Playmaking Festival

Every year we offer young people from our Associate schools an opportunity to take part in a Playmaking Festival in Stratford.

This year's festival explores Much Ado About Nothing. We are delighted that performances have already begun and will be taking place in our Partner Theatres and schools through the Spring and in Stratford-upon-Avon in July 2022. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 festivals both took place online.

In 2021, an interactive map took visitors from performance to performance, with hidden challenges included along the way.

In 2020 young people across the country responded to a set of creative challenges on The Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It for the festival. You can watch some examples of their work here.  

Associate school partners

  • Archibald Primary School, Middlesbrough

  • Ark Alexandra Academy, Hastings

  • Bradford College, Bradford

  • Canterbury High School, Kent

  • Captain’s Close Primary, Melton Mowbray

  • Crook Primary School, Durham

  • Dowdales School, Cumbria

  • Eastbury Community School, Barking

  • Fulford School, York

  • King Ethelbert School, Kent

  • Launceston College, Cornwall

  • Nelson Mandela Primary School, Birmingham

  • Newburgh Primary School, Warwick

  • Northampton Primary Academy Trust

  • Ormiston Sudbury Academy, Suffolk

  • Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School, Blackpool

  • Primary 6 Partnership (P6P), Nottingham

  • Sacred Heart Catholic High School, Newcastle upon Tyne

  • Southcoates Primary Academy, Hull

  • Springhead Primary School, North Staffordshire

  • St Mary’s College, Hull

  • St Paul's C of E Primary School, Nuneaton

  • Sydenham Primary School, Leamington Spa

  • Treviglas Academy, Cornwall

  • Welcombe Hills School, Stratford-upon-Avon

Associate theatre partners

  • The Alhambra Theatre (Bradford Theatres)

  • The Grand Theatre Blackpool

  • Hall for Cornwall

  • Hull Truck Theatre

  • Intermission Youth

  • The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

  • The New Vic Theatre

  • Northern Stage

  • The Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham

  • York Theatre Royal

  • Silhouette Youth Theatre

The Associate Schools programme is supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, Teale Charitable Trust and The Grimmitt Trust.

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