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This spring, primary school children up and down the country are invited to take part in an annual celebration of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare Week, now in its fourth year, will take place between the 20th and 26th March, hosting a number of activities to celebrate the life, works and times of one of our most famous cultural icons.

This year the programme has a particularly musical focus, in celebration of its patron Julian Lloyd-Webber. Delighted to support the festival, he is extremely excited about the way in which the “shared joy of music” will be used across the country, giving children access to their heritage “regardless of background.” Kicking off proceedings will be the Big Assembly, an opportunity for primary schools nationwide to perform a song specially composed by Shakespeare Rocks musician, Steve Titford.

Last year saw the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, with Shakespeare Week reaching over 1.9 million pupils from 12,000 primary schools. The event is now firmly established in the annual school calendar and Jacqueline Green, Head of Learning and Development at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, believes that, this year, it will be even “bigger and better”, with the musical element allowing pupils and teachers the opportunity to explore Shakespeare in “new [and] intriguing ways.”

To find out more about the events for young people and their families across the country, visit the Shakespeare Week website.

But it isn’t just primary school pupils that have been benefiting from Shakespeare’s life and work. A recent project from the RSC has transformed the ways in which pupils of all ages can engage with his plays.

The Learning and Performance Network (LPN) was part of the RSC’s education programme, and worked with schools, communities and theatres across the country to change the way people thought about Shakespeare. Using an active approach – ‘to see it live, to start it young and to do it on your feet’ – the initiative challenged the notion that Shakespeare was elitist or posh, and used a focussed approach to cater to students’ needs, taking into account their previous knowledge and personal passions.

Whilst the LPN initiative closed last year, the RSC has drawn on its success and re-launched it as the Associate Schools Programme, continuing to work with schools across the country to change and challenge the way in which pupils engage with Shakespeare. For more information about the scheme, and to find out how your school might like to be involved, please visit the project’s website.

Finally, RSC has been a support of Kids in Museums for some time and last year, they took part in Takeover Day England. Opening their doors to young people, they invited them to conduct touch tours and work Front of House. Click here for more information about Takeover Day, including a round-up of some of the events from across the country.

Becky MacNaughton, News Editor

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