10th July 2013 - Press Release
This week the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, set all secondary schools a target of teaching 11-14 year olds two Shakespeare plays. But at St Benedict's Catholic Primary School in Atherstone, Warwickshire, children as young as 5 are studying Shakespeare. And on Wednesday (10th) and Thursday (11th) they will be staging their own performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The performance is the finale of this term’s topic work for Years 5 and 6. It’s not just about learning lines for the play, Shakespeare’s work is used as a springboard to improve speaking and listening skills by doing 'ensemble' approach drama work where the children explore the themes, characters and language of Shakespeare whilst learning about how these fit in to Tudor times. This approach also increases children’s confidence.
Modern day themes are related to Shakespeare’s plays with the children undertaking project work looking, not just at Shakespeare’s life and times, but also crossing into other subject areas, for instance designing and making fairy wings.
Previously pupils have studied Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and the Tempest. A mixed group of children ranging from Reception to Year 6 has even performed their own interpretation of The Tempest in a festival at Stratford.
Teacher Mrs Niki Furlong-Smith is the school's Literacy lead: "We've taught Shakespeare at St Benedict's for years, even to Reception children, because his works can be accessed by all age groups if done appropriately.”
She continued; “The Royal Shakespeare Company has been very supportive too.We have worked with one of the RSC's Voice Coaches and last October some of our present Year 6s had their own poetry performed by members of the RSC at the theatre in Stratford.
Our main feeder school, St Thomas More School, has stated that the children we send to them are always open to the works of Shakespeare when they begin to study them as part of the KS3 curriculum."
1. For further information contact Head teacher Mrs Susan Shannon – 01827 712320 or PR Co-ordinator (Parent Volunteer) Angela Baines on 07976 438710.
2. Press photographers are welcome to visit the performance. Please contact Angela Baines (Parent volunteer) on 07976 438710.
3. Photographs show pupils from Year 5 &6 in the dress rehearsal of their performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and examples of project work.
4. In November 2012 St Benedict’s was rated as Good by Ofsted under the tougher new inspection regime and noted children’s exemplary behaviour. In March 2013 the School was also rated Good with Outstanding features for RE in a Diocesan inspection.
5. St Benedict’s School is based in Church Walk, Mancetter, Atherstone and accepts children from all backgrounds in the North Warwickshire area. www.stbenedictsonline.co.uk Tel: 01827 712320