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Twenty-five schools from the RSC’s Associate Schools Programme (ASP) are to receive a new RSC Artsmark Alliance Platinum Award in recognition of their outstanding commitment to Shakespeare and live theatre.  The highest accolade possible (equivalent to Artsmark Platinum) the awards also acknowledge the role of the schools in providing arts and cultural learning opportunities to their own and other school communities in their area.

Links between well-being and creativity are well established and research consistently shows that young people who experience an arts-rich education are more likely to do well at school, be more employable and become more active, engaged citizens. The award-winning schools are all ‘Lead Schools’ in the Associate Schools Programme committed to ensuring that more children and young people experience the positive benefits of arts and cultural learning.

Established over a decade ago, the RSC’s Associate Schools Programme is a long-term partnership programme with schools and regional theatres across the country.  The focus is to broaden access to quality arts learning opportunities and transform experiences of Shakespeare in schools. Using the same techniques actors and directors use in rehearsal, its playful approach engages children and young people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds improving literacy and language acquisition as well as boosting emotional and social skills development. The programme also involves teacher professional development, student leadership and performance opportunities for young people.

The specially created RSC Artsmark Alliance Platinum awards will be given to each of the ASP’s 25 Lead Associate Schools across England and have been created in recognition of  their outstanding commitment to cultural education, Shakespeare and live theatre over a number of years. Part of their remit as a Lead School, the awards also acknowledge the contribution of Lead Schools in building a network of other local schools to join the programme.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Learning and National Partnerships, said:

“We are delighted to recognise the dedication, commitment and talent of our Lead Associate Schools through the RSC Artsmark Award. All of these schools create amazing opportunities for young people to learn about, participate in, shape, produce and perform Shakespeare’s work. And while ostensibly the work is about Shakespeare, it’s also about connecting young people to a different way of learning that helps them develop key life and work skills such as better communication, self-belief, empathy, critical and creative thinking.

“Even during this past two years with the challenges of a pandemic, they have continued to develop exciting work which is having a powerful impact in their classrooms and on learning outcomes for pupils. These schools are extraordinary leaders, and it is wonderful to be able to recognise them with platinum awards - the highest level of the Artsmark Award’.   


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About the RSC Associate Schools’ Programme

The Associate Schools’ Programme is the RSC’s national schools’ partnership programme run in collaboration with twelve Regional Theatre Partners (see list below). It deliberately focusses on parts of the country where young people don’t typically have access to the arts and to Shakespeare.

The programme aims to help level the playing field by broadening access to arts learning opportunities in schools and unlock potential in learners of all ages regardless of where they live or where they go to school. Lead Associate Schools recruit and work alongside a group of Associate Schools in their region. Being part of the RSC’s Associate Schools Programme provides access to professional development opportunities for teachers to understand how to use the RSC’s ‘rehearsal based techniques’ in their own classrooms; as well as learning, participation, performance, talent development and leadership opportunities for students. Lead Associate Schools are able to evidence and articulate the impact of the work on their students and have an established relationship with the RSC, having engaged with a range of their programmes over time.

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. The work of the RSC Learning and National Partnerships is generously supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Clore Duffield Foundation, The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, GRoW@Annenberg, The Polonsky Foundation, Stratford Town Trust, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, Teale Charitable Trust, The Grimmitt Trust and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Regional 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

About Artsmark

Artsmark Award is the only creative quality standard for schools and education settings, accredited by Arts Council England. Since 2001, Artsmark has been supporting schools to develop and celebrate their commitment to arts, culture and creativity.

ACE’s Artsmark Alliance acknowledges the impact of established school programmes of outstanding quality that share the strategic aims of Artsmark. The alliance will create partnerships that strengthen networks, build capacity and increase reach, to ensure quality creative experiences for more children and young people.

The RSC Artsmark Alliance Platinum Award is awarded to Lead Associate Schools to acknowledge and celebrate the qualities they demonstrate through their long-term partnership with the RSC and Regional Theatre Partners.

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