Our solution

How we relieve need

SSF has worked with over 250,000 young people since 2000. Our mission - to use the unique power of Shakespeare to transform lives - recognises the power of an excellent arts experience to effect positive change for all young people, but particularly those who need this change the most.

The world’s largest youth drama festival is the core of our work. This project offers a unique opportunity for students of different ages, backgrounds and abilities to come together in a collaborative process of learning and performing on the same stage as their peers that is particularly authentic, is inspiring and engaging, enables personal progression and develops belonging and ownership.

In 2016, 27,550 young people from 1,093 schools performed abridged Shakespeare plays in 131 theatres across the UK. Over 67,000 proud parents, carers and friends watched young people exceed their own and others’ expectations.

“This has changed my life and made me more confident in nearly everything.” Denisas, student, Greenfields Primary School, Northamptonshire

Our training is deliberately kinaesthetic; the design promotes active engagement and sets teachers and students up for success. Exercises are devised to ensure collaboration and teamwork are promoted, mistakes are celebrated as stepping stones to improvement and a comprehensive understanding of Shakespeare is embedded. As a result, something really difficult is achieved, and the improvements in self-belief and ambition become cohesive benefits that can last a lifetime.

"The new skills they have learnt and the confidence they have gained will last for much longer than one night – SSF has helped our young people look to the future." Sue, Teacher, Queen Elizabeth II Special School, Horsham

  • 90% of young people become more confident in trying new things
  • 80% become more ambitious
  • 75% of students say they feel more confident speaking in front of adults
  • One class of children from deprived backgrounds saw 100% improvement in speaking and listening, 68% in reading and 59% in writing.
  • 87% say their students are more able to work effectively as a team. The whole attitude to life and learning is transformed.

Putting inclusivity at the heart of our work

The Festival is an inclusive, non-competitive process and any school can take part. Every year, children from different backgrounds come together to perform on the same stage. As a result of this collaborative approach, students’ horizons are broadened, bullying decreases, and confidence soars. Our thorough and rigorous process uses the power of Shakespeare to improve the life chances of thousands of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK.

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75% of participating students say that they enjoy going to the theatre, museums or galleries, whilst only 40% say they often visit them. The Festival provides students with access to the arts by bringing them into a professional theatre. For many, this is their first experience of a cultural, heritage or theatre environment.

A priority area for us is young people with special educational needs. We have been building our expertise with special schools and have become skilled at delivering and enabling inclusive performances. Teachers and parents report students make enormous and often unexpected developmental strides as a result of taking part in our process;100% of special school teachers report that their students exceed expectations. Of the young people, 86% said they would like additional chances to work alongside their mainstream peers and 77% reported they felt people now saw them differently.

“One of our pupils started his journey stammering and constantly forgetting his lines, but with determination and continuous practice, by the end of the performance he proudly projected his voice, speaking clearly and confidently.” Lisa Freeman, Teacher, Grange Park, Kent

97%
of teachers told us they developed strong leadership skills

We train and support teachers from primary, secondary and special schools to work actively and ambitiously with Shakespeare.

About our impact
95%
of special school teachers saw an increase in their students' resilience

We believe Shakespeare is for everyone. Every year children from very different backgrounds come together to perform on the same stage.

About our impact
79%
of special school teachers saw an increase in their students' confidence

We believe Shakespeare is for everyone. Every year children from very different backgrounds come together to perform on the same stage.

About our impact
87%
of teachers would strongly recommend the Festival to a colleague

We train and support teachers from primary, secondary and special schools to work actively and ambitiously with Shakespeare.

About our impact
As a result of the Festival process,
97%
of teachers are confident working with Shakespeare

We train and support teachers from primary, secondary and special schools to work actively and ambitiously with Shakespeare.

About our impact
As a result of taking part in the Festival,
97%
of teachers think they will stay in teaching for longer than 5 years

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

About our impact
98%
of teachers developed a strong relationship with their students through the Festival process

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 told us their students were better able to express themselves

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

About our impact
86%
of teachers reported that their students' academic attainment improved

We work to promote educational attainment - especially in literacy, literature and the performing arts.

About our impact
93%
of teachers told us the Festival improved their teaching

We work to promote educational attainment - especially in literacy, literature and the performing arts.

About our impact
86%
of teachers said that their students' behaviour improved as a result of the Festival

We work to promote educational attainment - especially in literacy, literature and the performing arts.

About our impact
95%
of teachers stated that students were more enthusiastic about learning

We work to promote educational attainment - especially in literacy, literature and the performing arts.

About our impact
86%
of teachers reported that attainment in English improved

We work to promote educational attainment - especially in literacy, literature and the performing arts.

About our impact
10%
of participants have English as an additional language

We have used the power of Shakespeare to improve the life chances of thousands of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK and with children with special educational needs.

About our impact
11%
of participants have a statement of educational needs

We have used the power of Shakespeare to improve the life chances of thousands of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK and with children with special educational needs.

About our impact
12%
of participants are eligible for free school meals

We have used the power of Shakespeare to improve the life chances of thousands of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK and with children with special educational needs.

About our impact
27%
of participants are minority ethnic

We have used the power of Shakespeare to improve the life chances of thousands of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK and with children with special educational needs.

About our impact
More than
1,000
schools participate in the Festival

We work nationwide - from Aberdeen to Aberdare, Carlisle to Clacton.

About our impact
Our young people will perform in front of
65,000
people nationwide

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

About our impact
In 2018 we will work with up to
30,000
young people

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

About our impact
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