How teachers and pupils in Cornwall have responded to being an RSC hub school.

Launceston College INSET at HFC_2015_Photo by Steve Tanner _c_ RSC_159293
A teacher from Launceston College taking part in a professional development workshop

In partnership with Hall for Cornwall.

After only one year as an RSC hub school, Launceston College has introduced hundreds of Cornish school pupils to Shakespeare, and discovered that teaching staff have benefitted just as much as students.

The ancient town of Launceston, Cornwall, is home to Launceston College Academy, a comprehensive school of around 1,400 students. Whilst in many ways a pleasant place to live, the town features highly in social and economic deprivation measures; employment in the area is broadly low-skilled, low-paid and seasonal, and teachers bemoan a lack of cultural aspiration in its pupils.

As an LPN hub-school working in partnership with Hall for Cornwall in Truro, teachers from Launceston and their network of cluster secondary and primary schools experienced INSET days with RSC practitioners, and adopted a range of rehearsal room techniques into their teaching.

Within 12 months, over 500 primary school students had attended an RSC live screening, 200 saw live performances of Shakespeare and most took part in workshops where they experienced Shakespeare for the first time.

Amongst older pupils, Key Stage 3 curriculums were redesigned to include a full unit of Shakespeare - incorporating RSC rehearsal room approaches - and 60 Key Stage 4 pupils enjoyed a trip to Stratford to see a live production of Love’s Labour’s Won (Much Ado About Nothing) in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Outside of the English and Drama departments, History and RE teachers were trained in RSC rehearsal room approaches and Shakespeare even found his way into the teaching of PE.

The project has impacted upon pupils’ learning and attainment, but the surprise result for staff is that the RSC’s techniques have impacted upon their wider approach to teaching practice. 

One English teacher explains, “My mid/low ability Year 8 class were using tableaux to present different scenes from Othello. One group of normally-reluctant boys were given the theme of ‘love’ to discuss. After much initial giggling, one boy suggested, ‘there’s more than one type of love, isn’t there?’ and the group made a powerful tableau of lads crowding around a television set cheering on a football team...This led to a very impressive piece of analytical writing.”

Another teacher describes, “I was meeting my new class for the year for the first time and engaged them straight away with RSC activities. Within minutes, an insecure, uncertain and edgy new group were laughing, making eye contact, and working with remarkable skill as a team. I will never again start my year with a list of rules and expectations and handing out exercise books!”