Symposium to share impact of Royal Shakespeare Company’s approach to teaching Shakespeare

Written by: Royal Shakespeare Company | Published:
Image by Rob Freeman

New research from the University of Warwick shows that using the Royal Shakespeare Company’s approach to studying Shakespeare can significantly improve student language acquisition and skills – with some schools reporting better SATS and GCSE English scores as a result.

The findings are discussed at a symposium for Headteachers and curriculum leaders at Stratford-Upon-Avon on Friday 22 June 2018.

The impact of a rehearsal-room approach to teaching Shakespeare

The research, carried out on behalf of the RSC by The Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research at the University of Warwick, included 100 schools nationwide who are involved in the RSC’s Associate Schools’ Programme – a long-term partnership programme between schools, regional theatres and the RSC that immerses teachers and students in a new approach to teaching Shakespeare, based on the techniques that RSC actors and directors use in rehearsals. Headline findings include:

  • Ninety-five per cent of teachers said that using RSC methods to study Shakespeare resulted in their students becoming more willing to contribute ideas and opinions in class.
  • Ninety-four per cent also said that the work was a catalyst to helping young people "find their voice" – improving pupils’ language skills and their confidence with language, as well as giving them valuable experience of speaking out loud in front of peers and classmates.
  • Ninety-five per cent of teachers reported an increase in confidence and understanding of what they are capable of as students get to grips with and "crack" Shakespeare.

  • The way of working was of particular benefit for boys previously considered to be "disengaged" or low-level learners.

Elsewhere in the research senior school teachers agreed that the RSC approaches were especially helpful in preparing students for the new GCSE exam which requires them to critically analyse previously unseen sections of text. Primary school teachers found that RSC approaches supported their work with English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (EGPS).

One primary Headteacher attributed the rise from 41.7 to 96.7 per cent of pupils achieving the expected level or higher in their KS2 SATS to the school’s commitment to using RSC approaches.

A Symposium for Headteachers and curriculum leaders

Headteachers and curriculum leaders are invited to Stratford-upon-Avon on 22 June 2018 for a symposium dedicated to the RSC’s approach to teaching Shakespeare.

Raising Achievement and Aspirations through Shakespeare will include presentations from Headteachers who have experienced the impact of the work first-hand; keynote speeches from leading educators including Geoff Barton, General Secretary, the Association of School & College Leaders and a guest appearance from Christopher Eccleston – currently performing in Macbeth at the RSC – as well as the chance to attend practical workshops.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Education at the RSC, said: “Recent research by the University of Warwick has shown that when you teach Shakespeare using rehearsal-based techniques, children’s spoken and written language skills improve as well as their confidence to use that language and contribute ideas and opinions in the classroom.

"Primary and secondary schools report a direct correlation between they work that they do with us and improvements in SATs and GCSE English scores. We want to share this evidence with more schools so that they can also experience this impact.”

The symposium is delivered in partnership with IVE, a social enterprise that is working to ensure a more creative future for businesses, teachers and young people. It supports the development of creativity as a transferable skill to improved employability and productivity. They aim to inspire the next generation of creative and culturally literate entrepreneurs.

Book your place

Book your place at Raising Achievement and Aspirations through Shakespeare: A Symposium for Headteachers and their curriculum leaders on June 22, 2018 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Tickets are £100 for RSC education members and £110 for non-members.

Early Bird Offer: You can book two places from the same school before March 31, 2018, for just £65 per-person for RSC education members (£75 per-person for non-members).

For further information visit or to book call the Education Ticket Hotline on 01789 403434 or email

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