In the spotlight: St Anne’s Catholic Primary School, Knowsley

Teacher Laura Hodgkiss from St Anne's Catholic Primary School Knowsley explains how the Festival helped her shy and reluctant class come on leaps and bounds in both their confidence and their learning.

“We did the Festival last year for the very first time. We had a Year 5 class with very low confidence and we wanted to nurture their speaking and listening skills. They have always been a very quiet class – you’d ask a question, and no-one would put their hand up. 

At the start of our Festival journey, I asked who wanted a speaking part and absolutely no-one volunteered. After a lot of coaxing, three children agreed to do roles where they said about one word each. It was hard work! In the end, I had to pull names out of a hat – and when I did no-one was happy!

However, I stuck with it. I used the Macbeth scheme of work provided by Shakespeare Schools Foundation as a springboard. They loved the discussion activity about who was most at fault – was it the witches, Macbeth or Lady Macbeth? It really got them going. Suddenly, everyone was super-engaged and wanted to voice an opinion. 

Initially, they were very self-conscious about saying lines, but through the drama activities they started to get more comfortable. When it came to rehearsing the play, I realised they especially liked scenes where the whole cast were on stage at once – like in the big battle scene – so I tried to do this as much as possible. No-one felt on their own. 

Half-way through the rehearsal process they were clamouring to take on bigger parts and more lines. They started to love the Shakespearean language – lines like, ‘turn hell-hound turn’ and ‘out, out damn spot’. I think they liked that the language is a bit naughty. They also really liked the scenes with the witches especially the lines speech ‘double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble’ and the bit where they chant ‘hand in hand’. They enjoyed the way Shakespeare played with the language. The children quote Shakespeare in their writing to this day. 

The company workshop was brilliant. Seeing other children act made a huge difference. When they realised how good children could be, they raised their game. They realised that the ones who joined in most, stood out the least. So they all started joining in more and were so much better. 

I saw a huge change in the children. For example, there was one girl who was incredibly shy and wouldn’t speak at all. On the night, there was a boy who was ill. I asked her to go on and say his lines for him and she just did it with no hesitation at all. Her confidence was sky-high.

Since taking part in the Festival, the class as a whole has been much more confident. I can’t wait to do it again this year!”

Shakespeare Schools Festival takes place every autumn. Find a performance near you.

 

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.

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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

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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.

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