In the spotlight – Beecroft Garden Primary School


From meeting Royalty to delivering flash mob-style performances in front of special-guest audiences, for students at Beecroft Garden Primary School, Lewisham, taking part in our Festival has led to new and thrilling opportunities. Year 5 teacher Hannah Henson explains how SSF is transforming lives of children at the school.

“Our school has taken part in the Festival every year since 2016 and the children absolutely love it – it’s the big school event that gets talked about the most. In November 2018, our Year 5 classes performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Greenwich Theatre. Before the Festival, most of the students had never even set foot in a theatre let alone performed on stage, so it was an incredible opportunity.

To start with, the children were nervous and daunted by the language of Shakespeare. During the rehearsals, they grew in confidence, learning how to deliver their lines skilfully and engage the audience through body language. The brilliant schemes of work provided by SSF also helped us to create an immersive experience for students, deepening their understanding through cross-curricular learning.

Strutting their stuff at the Palace of Westminster.

When it came to the big Festival night, the students delivered an impressive and confident performance. So much so that in March a group of five students from our school was invited to represent SSF at a special event celebrating the charity’s work at Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster. In front of an audience that included MPs and dignitaries, they staged a flash mob-style performance featuring Bottom and his friends. Despite the grandiose surroundings, the children took it all in their stride and did themselves proud.

Following this performance, they were invited to showcase the scene again – this time at the Foundling Museum at an event marking the announcement of HRH the Duchess of Cambridge as Royal Patron. As part of the event, our students even got to meet the duchess! They also chatted to a host of literary luminaries including Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Lemn Sissay. When I told their parents, they couldn’t believe it!

With Jacqueline Wilson. Credit: Foundling Museum and © Rachel Cherry

It’s incredible to think how far some of the students in this group have come. For example, one of our actors has a history of speech and language difficulties. To see him perform, you would never know. He’s grown massively in confidence.

One thing that really inspired him was seeing his brother, who has autism, take part in the Festival last year. At first, his brother outright refused to take on the part of the Porter in Macbeth, but when it came to Festival night he absolutely brought the house down. As a result, his younger brother couldn’t wait to take part himself.

Every year, we find that working closely as a team helps children develop social and emotional skills. Before the Festival, the five children in this group weren’t really friends. They have quite different characters and they come from both of our Year 5 classes so wouldn’t normally mix. Now, they are all genuinely friends. It’s a snapshot of what happens across the year-group as part of the Festival, with cliques breaking down and new friendships forming.

Meeting author Lemn Sissay (© Rachel Cherry)

Seeing children from other schools perform on Festival night also made a huge impression on our children. For example, there was a special school performing Julius Caesar and the actor playing the part of Anthony had his lines ghosted to him by another actor. Our children were hugely inspired by this. One child said that it made him realise that whatever you find difficult in life there’s a way to overcome it. He was scared of taking part in sports but after seeing this child perform he’s joined a tennis club and started playing football. It just goes to show how far-reaching the impact of the Festival really is.

For any school considering taking part I’d say, 'Go for it!' "

96%
of teachers said that their students were resilient as a result of the Festival

With us, young people change their attitude to learning; we instill curiosity, empathy and pride.

About our impact
95%
of teachers reported that their students were better able to empathise with each other

With us, young people change their attitude to learning; we instill curiosity, empathy and pride.

About our impact
99%
of teachers said that their students increased in confidence

Every year we help thousands of young people from across the UK become better at teamwork, more confident and more ambitious.

About our impact
97%
of teachers agreed that their students were better at working together as a team

Every year we help thousands of young people from across the UK become better at teamwork, more confident and more ambitious.

About our impact
94%
of students are more likely to seek out new opportunities

With us, young people change their attitude to learning; we instill curiosity, empathy and pride.

About our impact
More than
250,000
young people have taken part in the Festival

At our core is our Festival - the world’s largest youth drama festival.

About our impact

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