The Primary 6 Partnership, a group of five Nottingham City primary schools, (Ambleside, Heathfield, Hempshill Hall, Old Basford and Rosslyn Park Primary Schools) based on six sites, is one of only 10 schools nationwide to be selected as a lead ‘school’ as part of the RSC’s national Associate Schools programme.
The RSC Associate Schools programme is the RSC’s long-term partnership programme with over 200 schools and 10 regional theatre partners nationwide that aims to immerse teachers and students in new approaches to Shakespeare’s plays.
As a RSC Lead Associate School, teachers from these P6P schools demonstrate a deep commitment to sharing Shakespeare’s work with children of all ages and abilities using RSC approaches. To do this, they work intensively alongside practitioners from the RSC and the Theatre Royal, Nottingham to learn how RSC actors approach Shakespeare in the rehearsal room.
The teachers then work with theatre practitioners from the RSC and the Theatre Royal Nottingham to adapt those techniques for the classroom – pushing desks to one side, getting the children up on their feet, speaking the words out loud and exploring the plays through techniques taken from the rehearsal room and performance. Both pupils and teachers work alongside each other in workshops and performance projects, developing their skills and knowledge. They then recruit and lead a local network of schools who use Shakespeare’s play to lead the culture for learning in their schools.
The Primary 6 Partnership will work with the RSC and the Theatre Royal Nottingham for an initial two years and will have the opportunity to renew after this time.
Gary Fullwood, Chair of The Primary 6 Partnership and Executive Head teacher, Heathfield Primary School, said: “We are delighted to partner with more schools over the next two years to share and extend our enthusiasm for Shakespeare for the benefit of children, staff and the wider community. Working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Theatre Royal Nottingham brings high quality exciting provision to the heart of city schools inspiring our pupils and families to see that Shakespeare and cultural venues are relevant and open to them today”
David Longford, Creative Learning Manager, Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, said: “Through our range of visiting companies coming in to the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall we have always endeavoured to provide high quality theatre experiences to local schools and students. This new relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Primary 6 Partnership, which has developed directly from the RSC’s 2016 tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, will enable us to engage further with a wide range of local schools, giving them much more direct access to our work and allowing us to become more involved in the actual classroom. This is a very significant and important step for our Learning Department”
Speaking about the newly appointed Lead Schools, Director of Education for the RSC, Jacqui O’Hanlon, said: “Our Associate Schools programme is based on a simple truth: that schools believe other schools when it comes to what makes the biggest difference to teaching practice, to aspirations and to the lives of the children they teach. Now entering its second year, we are thrilled to announce our new cohort of Lead Associate Schools who demonstrate on a daily basis the impact of an arts rich curriculum. Lead Associate Schools are full of children, teachers and governors who inspire each other and their local communities with Shakespeare’s work. We are incredibly proud to work in partnership with such talented, passionate partners at a time when there has never been a more urgent need for work that brings us together and gives us a voice“.
Thirty Y4 and Y5 children from The Primary 6 Partnership performed Shakespeare’s The Tempest to a combined audience of over 1,200 during the week, 12-16 June 2017. The talented 9 and 10 year old cast wowed their peers, families and staff with their grasp of the text, characterisation, singing and choreography. P6P schools provided the fairy train for the RSC production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Theatre Royal Nottingham in 2016 and this inspired them to take on their own touring version of another Shakespeare classic. The Tempest production team led by Martha Toogood, (College Street & ChalleNGe) developed a bespoke script which remained true to the text and was accompanied by a creative set (designed by Rachael Jacks) and commissioned musical pieces (Dr Liam Maloy).
There will be more information for schools about the Associate Schools Programme for Nottingham in the Autumn 2017