The Royal Shakespeare Company is asking every Primary and Secondary school across the country to take part in a national Stand up for Shakespeare Assemblies Week from 26 – 30 January 2009 to explore and debate the importance of Shakespeare.
The scheme is in reaction to the recent abolition of Key Stage 3 tests, meaning that pupils no longer have to sit a Shakespeare exam at the end of Year Nine. Yet the Bard remains the only compulsory writer to be studied by all young people in England and Wales, so the RSC wants to ask young people why they think Shakespeare holds such an important place in their literary educations.
In his letter inviting schools to take part, RSC artistic director Michael Boyd said: “It is my belief that Shakespeare remains the world’s favourite artist because his living dilemmas of love, mortality, power and citizenship remain unresolved, vivid and urgent today. I hope you will join us in promoting the importance of Shakespeare in the classroom and of keeping his plays alive and relevant for children and young people across the country.”
He invites teachers to download specially created assembly toolkits from the RSC’s Stand up for Shakespeare website which includes a video featuring messages of support from actors including Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, Tamsin Greig, Michelle Gomez and David Tennant. Teachers are also encouraged to post videos of their Shakespeare assemblies on the RSC’s Youtube channel.
RSC director of education Jacqui O’Hanlon said of the scheme: “From the evidence we’ve gained from our experiences, we know that active approaches to teaching Shakespeare can engage and inspire all learners and bring Shakespeare to life … We want children and young people to be able to talk back to us about their experience of Shakespeare … We look forward to hearing what they’ve got to say.”