How the Festival supported one student to work with others
SSF's Chief Executive Ruth Brock
“Whichever voting lobby you walk down, whichever House you are in, whatever village or city, mansion or hostel you come from, division and intolerance are in the air… SSF believes we owe the next generation more than that. And that we need to give them the tools to do better.”
These words came from our Chief Executive Ruth Brock at a special event to launch our Impact Report 2018. The location for the launch celebration, Speaker’s House at The Palace of Westminster, felt fitting. In 2018, the theme for our Festival was Democracy and our charity also turned 18 – an important coming of age. To an audience of over 120 special guests, we highlighted how our charity helps young people gain both the confidence they need to speak up and an appreciation of the importance of listening to and collaborating with others – all through the process of putting on a play.
Over the course of the evening, many different voices from across the charity were heard. A group of students aged nine and ten from Beecroft Primary School, Lewisham, raised smiles with a vignette from A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring Bottom and his friends.
Students from Beecroft Garden performing a scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream
Teacher Michelle Ejueyitchie spoke of how our work is impacting lives at Bensham Manor, a special school in Croydon. She said, “Each year the response from young people is the same – when are we going to do our next play? This is literally the day after their big performance in a professional space; they have received rapturous applause from an audience of other schools and astonished parents. What is foremost in their minds is when they are going to perform their next play.”
She went on to share stories of students whose lives have been changed by performing in the Festival, including that of a young man with behavioural difficulties, Tourette’s and a lack of self-belief who gained so much confidence he proceeded to have main parts in many Festival plays.
Students from Year 10 at Morpeth Secondary School, Bethnal Green, gave a flavour of our work with secondary schools, performing a scene from Julius Caesar. Following this, the student playing the part of Brutus delivered a powerful and personal speech explaining how performing with SSF has changed his life, encouraging him to make positive choices.
A student describes the positive impact of the Festival for him
At the end of the evening, each guest went home with a copy of our Impact Report 2018. This report testifies to SSF’s commitment to being a deeply inclusive organisation, where every voice is valued:
- 28% of our students were from a minority ethnic background - above the national average
- 11% of our participants speak English as an Additional Language
- The proportion of students in the Festival with a statement of Special Educational Needs was double the national average.
As part of our 2018 Festival evaluation, teachers reported
- 98% of students were more able to express themselves
- 97% of students were more able to work as a team
- 82% of students had improved academic attainment
Read our Impact Report 2018.