Throughout my career, I have held the belief that the study of Shakespeare has real benefits for students, particularly in the areas of self-esteem, behaviour and literacy. I have loved working closely with the RSC; attending numerous workshops, their SEND symposium and participating with my students in both regional and national Playmaking Festivals. I use the RSC rehearsal room approaches in my teaching of Shakespeare and in other topics which has proved the most beneficial CPD, particularly with our whole school focus on improving literacy and oracy.

When using the RSC classroom approaches, I discovered that many of our SEND students really engaged with the Shakespeare work in my classroom.

Unfortunately, many people still have a negative view of Shakespeare, often born of ignorance. The work with the RSC helps to dispel the myth that Shakespeare’s work is the domain of the educated elite. My aim has been to expose my students to timeless stories and a wealth of language.

When using the RSC classroom approaches, I discovered that many of our SEND students really engaged with the Shakespeare work in my classroom and it was commented on by TAs how much more confident they were. It was wonderful to see them performing Shakespeare and loving it!

My classroom pedagogy is to be all inclusive, supportive, firm but fair and to set high expectations for everyone to achieve. I encourage everyone to ‘take a risk,’ to overcome the barriers of self-consciousness and in doing so to build their confidence and belief in themselves. I have a ‘safety net’ policy which promotes praise and admiration for anyone performing in front of others and overcoming the number one fear in the world, public speaking!

Here I have focused on three students I have worked with who have struggled in certain areas of school life and who have benefitted enormously from involvement in activities using the RSC rehearsal room approaches.

  • Student A

  • Student B

  • Student C

These classroom approaches are breaking down barriers for our students.

I am not particularly surprised by the outcome of my research. However, I am continually amazed by the engagement of students and change in attitude towards Shakespeare when using RSC rehearsal room approaches. It seems that the biggest confidence boost is amongst the SEND students, who find their understanding and enjoyment of texts increases as well as their curiosity and desire to learn more. There is greater confidence to read out loud in lessons and immense pride in being able to speak and understand Shakespeare’s language.

The elitist stigma remains attached to the study of Shakespeare today, yet these classroom approaches are breaking down barriers for our students, opening undiscovered worlds and initiating discussions.

Connected_ Associate Schools Symposium_ 2021_2021_Photo by Sam Allard_ Fisher Studios _c_ RSC_321985 (1)
Associate Schools Symposium 2021
 Vanessa - from Adv Cert course 2023

Vanessa Adams

I am a Performing Arts teacher at The Skipton Academy, an RSC Associate School. I have completed the RSC Certificate in Teaching Shakespeare, Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced Courses, undertaking a research project on the effects of using RSC rehearsal room approached in my classroom in the Advanced Course. Through the Associate Schools Programme I have also attended the SEND symposium and participated with my students in Playmaking Festivals.

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