This March, 7-11-year-olds in more than 1600 primary schools across the UK will explore the stories and legacy of William Shakespeare, from how he influenced today’s modern language to what he might have eaten for his tea!
Teachers in their thousands have signed up to join in this national campaign created by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and are downloading free resources to plan fun and creative sessions that will introduce Shakespeare to children in their most formative years. From fashion, film-making and finger-puppets to making a Tudor banquet and learning about the plague flea, Shakespeare will be cropping up in unusual ways across every school subject.
Children can continue their Shakespearean adventure outside school with a Passport to Shakespeare that will give them and their family exclusive discounts and access to special exhibitions, productions and events in theatres, historic sites, museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries during Shakespeare Week and beyond, across the UK.
The idea of encouraging young children to have fun with Shakespeare in this way is the brainchild of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Jacqueline Green, head of learning and participation at the charity explains why: “Primary school is where magic can still happen, where children are most open to learning new things. We want to open the door to learning about Shakespeare with flexible resources which are free for schools and opportunities for families to try out Shakespeare-related activities and events near where they live.
“We’ve been bowled over by response from schools and cultural organisations to this campaign – it proves that Shakespeare is as popular and relevant as ever.”
Baroness Floella Benjamin is an ambassador for the campaign. In her Queen’s Debate speech on education in the House of Lords, she called for Shakespeare Week to become a permanent fixture in our schools calendar:
“I’m particularly proud to be involved in the Trust’s new national schools and cultural campaign to open up Shakespeare’s legacy to every child in Britain. I have seen at first hand how joyfully and enthusiastically young people react when they are exposed to Shakespeare. Shakespeare Week is a bold and original approach to cultural learning and I hope we can make it a permanent annual celebration that will give our children the chance to feel that they are part of something great.”
Shakespeare Week is supported using public funding by Arts Council England (ACE). The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was awarded £150,000 from the ACE Renaissance Strategic Fund to support the first two Shakespeare Weeks in 2014 and 2015.