Three teachers from Southcoates Primary Academy in Hull, part of the Enquire Learning trust, have been trained in rehearsal room techniques by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of a project by Hull, City of Culture. The techniques aim to raise attainment through creative arts in areas of high social deprivation with Southcoates Primary Academy being one of 10 schools in Hull chosen to take part. 

The project, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and run by IVE (formerly Cape UK) and the RSC, investigated the impact of creative arts-based teaching on attainment in pupils. The project involved experiencing the thoughts and feelings of Shakespeare’s characters and allowing children to be part of situations they may not encounter in their daily lives. 

By developing techniques such as ‘Freeze Frames’ where the children are asked to add character’s thought bubbles and caption emotions during a play, and ‘Word Carpet’ where the children are asked to orally rehearse the thoughts and feelings of characters before putting pen to paper, the pupils are more prepared to write creatively rather than being fearful of a blank piece of paper. Other methods include: ‘Whoosh’, a play in 20 minutes to build on narrated action,’ mapping a setting through play’ allowing younger children to understand location and key features of a story, and ‘Company building games’ which allows the children to feel comfortable with each other to work together. 

Ted Chamberlain, Principal of Southcoates School said; “We are currently focusing on embedding this method into our teaching over the next two years. We already have Shakespeare units within our topics and therefore felt that it would be useful to have experienced practitioners to support our teaching. With our key pedagogy of talk, we felt that the techniques would complement our existing strategies.

“These techniques have been introduced across the whole school and all staff have been given the opportunity to practice them in their own lessons. Currently, all staff are carrying out action research to analyse the impact school-wide. The literacy curriculum structure will be revised to include those techniques that have been more successful across each phase.

“Our teachers Samantha Oliver, Gemma Reed and Laura Wright will become accredited teachers of the rehearsal room techniques and hope to then support other schools within in the Trust with taking on the techniques for their pupils.”

As part of one Enquire Learning Trust, of the largest primary only academy Trusts in England, Southcoates is well versed in using innovative teaching styles. ELT prides itself on developing its staff which has won it national recognition for its school improvement expertise resulting in its overall performance being better than the national average last year.