Playing for Shakespeare

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust launches new digital resource to introduce Shakespeare to Key Stage 3 pupils.

25 February 2014

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has launched a new digital game to support the teaching of Shakespeare to Key Stage 3 pupils, who will be required to study two Shakespeare plays under the revised curriculum.  Playing for Shakespeare has been developed by the educational charity following its research into the experience and needs of teachers covering Shakespeare in the classroom.

About 50% of pupils at Key Stage 3 have no prior knowledge of Shakespeare’s life and works when they are taught his work in year 7. This percentage is likely to increase from September 2014 as the Tudors will no longer feature as part of the National Curriculum for Primary Schools.

The Playing for Shakespeare game and its supplementary resources use extracts from multiple plays rather than focusing on a single play, allowing pupils to get to know Shakespeare’s world without the need for knowledge of a specific play.  The game revolves around the young central character, Nicholas, as he explores the Elizabethan theatre world.  Pupils follow Nicholas’ adventures as he is invited to star in some ofShakespeare’s greatest plays, working from a script, and getting to grips with verse structure and  Shakespeare’s  creative way with words.

Elizabeth Dollimore, Outreach and Primary Learning Manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “Playing for Shakespeare is the result of 18 months of research with more than 100 teachers and trainee teachers across the country.  The biggest difficulty that teachers reported was the attitude of pupils to Shakespeare; many pupils believe that Shakespeare’s work will be difficult, and perceive it as irrelevant to modern times.  We also found that Shakespeare’s language can be challenging for teachers as well as pupils. 

“Working with 14 teacher training colleges and established teachers in their placement schools, we have created this game as a fun, interactive way to break down those barriers and make Shakespeare accessible.”

Playing for Shakespeare was crafted by Play Brighter, a game making team who has experience teaching Key Stage 3 English.  It has a modern look and feel and is populated with human characters drawn from genuine historical research. It comprises four games which can be played either sequentially or separately, and is supported by a wide range of free resources focused on the new Key Stage 3 English and History curriculums.  Playing for Shakespeare costs £95 to download for unlimited use.

Elizabeth Dollimore added, “We want every child to have the opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s stories, enjoy his language, and get to know the words he created before they need to formally study his works later in their education.  The launch of Playing for Shakespeare is a complimentary initiative to give older pupils – and their teachers – the chance to have fun with Shakespeare as well as study his plays.”

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is also the organiser of the new Shakespeare Week campaign to give every Primary School child a great first encounter with the world’s most famous playwright.  The first Shakespeare Week (17-23 March) will unite schools with theatres, galleries, museums, cinemas, libraries, musicians, publishers and historic places in a nationwide celebration of the playwright.

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Notes to editors:
Press release date: 26 February 2014. For more information please contact Press and Public Affairs Officer Nurinder Mantell or call 01789 207132.


Playing for Shakespeare can be used on any PC system running Windows XP/Vista/7/8, and any Mac system running OSX 10.6 or later.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust offers an array of educational courses. For more information visit the Educational Courses page at

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world. The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no public subsidy or direct regular government funding; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends.