Alas, poor Yorick missed a great day
SHAKESPEARE provided the inspiration Chiseldon Primary School needed to turn the tables after criticism from Ofsted.
Shakespeare Week, co-ordinated by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for the first time this year, is a national celebration of the playwright which schools can take part in.
All seven year groups had the week off-timetable at the village school in order to focus their efforts on embracing the Bard’s works with a specific focus on his and their own writing.
In Chiseldon’s last full inspection in February 2013, Ofsted reported the school required improvement because teachers were not planning enough activities at the right level of difficulty for pupils to use and develop their writing.
Headteacher Spencer Allen, who was not in place last February, said the findings from that inspection were a large part of the reason why the school grabbed the week’s celebration with both hands.
“It was quite a drastic thing for the school. We have really stepped up a gear with our writing activities here,” he said.
“The report just said we need to improve writing and the amount of writing the school does. It’s really hard for children to have that love of writing.
“Personally, I love Shakespeare. It’s really important to celebrate famous playwrights from our country. We got the kids to focus on writing and that love of writing.”
In what was the inaugural staging of the event across the country, Arts Council England provided resources and support for schools across the nation to get involved.
At Chiseldon last week, there were a range of activities. Pupils in Year Six re-enacted specific scenes from plays, such as Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet.
Some classes were given the opportunity to practise Shakespearean insults, with a masquerade ball also included in the week’s programme.
Spencer is happy with the creativity his staff demonstrated in ensuring all of their pupils engaged with the texts and had fun with the legendary works.
In all their finery - pupils go all Elizabethan
“We did capture the themes of his plays in different ways,” he said. “We didn’t just sit there and read the plays through, as you would at a secondary school.
“We took snippets and made it come to life. There is plenty in his works for children of all ages to engage with.
“The teachers were really out there with some really exciting activities, and if anything the excitement built up as the week went on with the dress-up day on Friday.”