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The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Museums and Schools Programme

Earlier in the year we were delighted to reintroduce our guiding experience day for schools

taking part in our Museums and Schools programme. This proved to be very popular with

schools and received outstanding feedback. Several teachers noted increased confidence

levels among children, as well as benefits associated with building teamwork, resilience and

perseverance. It was evident that a number of schools had been keenly awaiting the

reintroduction of this programme, with teachers recognising the truly unique opportunities

presented by this bespoke offer. The guiding experience cannot be replicated in schools and

the benefits children derive from working in a real-life setting should not be underestimated.

This feedback from a partner teacher demonstrates the impact of the experience:

The actual privilege to be a part of this is brilliant for our children, staff and the school. The chance to be an integral part of the daily routine of some of the most famous houses in the world. What an opportunity! The benefits are varied. The children enthuse about what they are doing - one child wore a replica of Shakespeare’s ring as part of his guiding experience and shared the story of it with visitors from all over the world. Words cannot describe how excited he was and proud – you should have heard him telling his mum at the end of the day! Shakespeare transforms from just being a name in a book to reality – the children are in his houses, learning about and sharing real history. The increase in confidence from the beginning to the end is remarkable – nervous, stilted guides transform into knowledgeable and confident experts as their voices become clearer and gestures more dramatic. Just fabulous!

Sharing Shakespeare's Stories

We also invited children to act in the garden of Shakespeare’s Birthplace and this was a real

highlight for schools. Numerous teachers told us of the benefits children gained from walking

and performing in Shakespeare’s footsteps. It was wonderful to hear Shakespeare’s words

being brought to life by a young audience once again – something I think everyone had

missed in the long post-pandemic recovery.

Alongside the prestigious guiding opportunity, we developed a blended learning offer that

combined on-site visits to Mary Arden’s Farm with outreach sessions, digital interactions and

access to loan boxes. At the heart of this activity was the chance for schools to engage with

SBT’s Collection in innovative ways. It was paramount that all activity enhanced the National

Curriculum and met teachers' requirements. History workshops were based around

Shakespeare’s life and times with children taking part in hands-on activities including making

wattle and daub, painting wall hangings and designing Elizabethan banqueting food. Pupils

also explored the historic site, looking at the design and fabric of Tudor buildings. In drama

workshops, schools explored some of Shakespeare’s best-known works. Using original text,

active storytelling, movement and music, pupils were introduced to Shakespeare’s stories,

characters and language. Central to this was the desire to immerse children in the social and

historical context of the plays whilst allowing them access to original documents, paintings

and artefacts.

Schools see real value from working with SBT on the Museums and Schools programme as

shown in this quote from a teacher:

The partnership we have with SBT is one of the things we are most proud of at our school. The cultural capital this provides for our children is simply outstanding

— Teacher, anonymous