50,000 children to tread the boards

Thousands of children and their teachers will get the chance to stage a Shakespeare play, to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth in 2014. It’s part of an attempt to promote the Bard’s work in schools, at a time when concerns are being raised about the future of cultural education.


The DfE has donated £140,000 to the Shakespeare Schools Festival (SSF) as a contribution to its £3.2m plans to treble the number of schools it reaches, especially primaries, the BBC reports.

The funding will help the Festival provide schools with abridged scripts, rehearsal tips and a local theatre in which to perform. There will also be workshops on directing and stage-craft for teachers. The DfE is also giving the Royal Shakespeare Company £125,000 to provide every state secondary school with a free copy of its Shakespeare Toolkit for Teachers.

SSF patron actress Jenny Agutter said: “Shakespeare’s wonderful plays let us hear and understand people’s strengths, weaknesses, fears and joys. The plays pose questions about humanity and morality. The words have a music that touches our senses. What better way for young people to understand language than taking part in SSF and discovering these extraordinary texts?”

The donation comes in the face of concerns about the future of cultural education, following the announcement of plans for the English Baccalaureate from 2015. The DfE said that the donations are part of the Government’s drive to improve cultural education and Mr. Gove added: “The Festival enables students to bring the plays of the great playwright to life and does fantastic work to improve cultural education in our schools.”

Do you think Shakespeare’s plays need to be promoted in this way or should the money be spent elsewhere?


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