Do You See Me? - Learning Disability Week 2024

We're thrilled to have been celebrating Mencap’s Learning Disability Week. In 2024, the week centred on ensuring that people with a learning disability ‘are seen, heard, and valued.’ This sentiment is at the heart of our inclusive practice at Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation.

We're acutely aware of the barriers people with a learning disability face in accessing live arts and performance. We also know that work to challenge this can begin in the classroom. It's here that we generate excitement in the creative possibilities of access to the arts.

When it comes to creating the culture of a rehearsal room, we believe that play’s the thing. Teachers with experience of SEND settings are often trailblazers, with immense expertise in how to explore and adapt creative practice to the needs and interests of their young people. Permission to take Shakespeare’s pen and adapt his stories is just the beginning, though. We invite teachers to view their students as creative collaborators and allow themselves to be guided by students' unique ideas and identities. Often, young people themselves will show us how to reimagine the possible.

Two students - one using a wheelchair - perform on a theatre stage.

"I think it's really important that even though our children have special needs - in fact, because they have special needs - they're able to access really important, excellent literature."

- Liz and Pauline, Teachers, Dorin Park School

In our 2023/24 Season of Reimagining, we saw incredible contributions from SEND schools. Greenholm School presented a Scooby-Doo Macbeth at The Leatherhead Theatre; Knockevin Special School delighted us with a magical, musical A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The MAC Belfast; Hadrian School gave us some exceptional shadow work in their Julius Caesar at Newcastle's Northern Stage theatre. These are but a few of the examples we see, in an average Festival year, of access and exceptional theatre going hand in hand.

Ensuring equal access to great art is central to our mission. This work makes space for all young people to have fun, be themselves, and reach for the stars. All school types and provisions from across the globe take to the stage and screen during our Festivals and through this work, every young person is celebrated as a valued participant.

So much of the creative process is informed by the ‘yes, and...’ language of artistic curiosity. This doesn't just help a rehearsal room to generate new ideas; it's also a reminder to maximise the transformative potential of access. Because when everyone's included, remarkable things happen.

From Scooby-Doo Macbeths to musical Midsummers, we see how the talents of people with learning disabilities can be harnessed to produce incredible theatre. This week and every week, we take pride in supporting people with learning disabilities to show the world what they can do.

To be seen. To be heard. And to be valued.

More than
young people have taken part in the Festival

Our flagship project is the Festival - the world’s largest youth drama festival.

About our impact

Coram SSF is a cultural education charity that exists to instil curiosity and empathy, aspiration and self-esteem, literacy and teamwork - giving young people the confidence to see that all the world is their stage.

Learn more about us