Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation (CSSF) is bringing an exciting two-year theatre project to rural schools in the North Yorkshire Moors and Yorkshire Dales. Four schools in the area will have the opportunity to take part in “Off-Grid” and collaborate with the award-winning team that produces the world’s largest youth drama festival, the Coram Shakespeare Schools Theatre Festival, which sees thousands of students performing in professional theatres across the country.
Given that rural schools often lack easy access to theatres, “Off-Grid” has been specially designed for small rural primary schools to stage fun and creative Shakespeare productions in their community and embed Drama into the curriculum.
CSSF believes that every child deserves the opportunity to access the arts and vital life skills, including confidence, teamwork, and communication development that come with it. CSSF wants to bring professional artists and drama practices into schools that aren’t able, because of size or location, to take part in its annual Theatre Festival.
As schools emerge from the pandemic, a range of experts have called for culture and the arts to be at the heart of children’s education recovery and renewal, highlighting the need for children to express themselves and enhance their wellbeing. Recognising and celebrating the creativity of children and young people in rural schools and giving them the same opportunities to access the arts as their peers in other parts of the country is key.
A number of rural schools in Cumbria and Somerset are now in their second year of the project and have spoken of the benefits for children. One teacher at a Cumbria rural school said: “Rarely have I seen such noticeable improvements throughout the curriculum following an intervention or project”. Another teacher taking part in Somerset said: “It is fantastic to see students who were withdrawn when they started their Festival journey, blossom with confidence and self-esteem”.
The Off-Grid project includes twilight CPD sessions with staff; introducing the project, CSSF’s methodology and a toolkit for exercises that can be used in the classroom. CSSF will conduct regular workshops throughout the year exploring a Shakespeare story with every pupil in the school, led by its professional team. This knowledge will then transition into an end of term, interactive, bold, and fun performance, facilitated by the CSSF team in the local community. Schools will receive CSSF’s award-winning curriculum resources and training to embed its pedagogy in the classroom.
Francesca Ellis, Head of Creative at CSSF, said: “Our two-year programme will bring the joy of performing Shakespeare to schools in some of the most rural areas of the UK. At Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation, we understand the power of the arts and its positive impact in the classroom. Over the last 20 years, we have been working directly with primary, secondary, and SEND schools up and down the country offering bespoke opportunities to learn, create, and work together. Regardless of their background or location, we are determined to transform the lives of young people in every region of the UK.
“In recent years, countryside communities have faced financial shortfalls with a lack of funding reaching rural schools. Through our Off-Grid project, we will give four schools in rural North Yorkshire a unique chance to explore Shakespeare’s timeless stories. They’ll gain crucial life skills such as confidence and empathy. They’ll develop key language skills they’ll need for life. And, through Shakespeare’s vibrant worlds and characters, they’ll learn more about what it means to be human.”
As a cultural education charity, CSSF has been supported in bringing this project to life by The Esmee Fairburn Foundation. The support allows eligible schools to take part in this two-year project at a highly discounted rate, having only to make a small contribution of £400. If you are based in North Yorkshire Moors or Yorkshire Dales, are a small rural primary school, please contact CSSF at
email@example.com or 020 7601 1800 to see if your school is eligible to take part. The deadline for applications is the end of January 2022.