We do shows, we do education, (and sometimes we do Birmingham too!) so we thought perhaps we should check out the Education Show at the NEC! Once we found out that dancer Darcey Bussell and Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen were key speakers we booked our train tickets!
It was a real treat – and not just because of the free star shaped highlighter pen we were given by the Ministry of Defence Schools’ stand! (We like star shapes obviously!).
Darcey Bussell advocated dance in schools for fitness and Michael Rosen spoke about giving children the chance to "make literacy their own". I can’t help but think that they’d love our Bringing Books to Life dance workshops – which do both!
Although they spoke on separate days, a message that Bussell and Rosen shared was the importance of learning with a purpose, without being too wedded to strict formulas and correctional instructions. Not to undermine the importance of discipline and focus but to highlight that true inspiration often comes in the less structured windows of our lives.
At the Education Show and in his latest blog http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk/ Michael Rosen suggests "planning for the time after SATs, when schools can choose to suspend the curriculum and plan whole school language-based activities."
Giving children freedom to express themselves is so important for their physical and mental wellbeing, as well as their learning. As Rosen says: “Children playing with language, story, poetry and drama for a purpose will enable them to use it in all situations with more confidence and control.”
His particular example was Ranelagh School in Newham, London using a single text across the whole school. They made Shakespeare’s The Tempest "work across the whole school using themes and motifs from the play for every year from Nursery to Year 6. This involved every teacher in planning and sharing ideas to do with the play."
Our Shakespeare Today workshops enable up to 210 school children to explore and perform a Shakespeare play in a day. We tailor the workshops to each age group and build children's confidence in engaging with the Bard's work by helping them to understand the characters and take ownership of the story through performance. It’s that same concept of coming to love literature by having fun with it!
On Saturday, once the madding crowd had subsided, we had the opportunity to speak to Michael Rosen about some of what we do in primary schools.
In particular, we spoke about our Inspiring Writing workshops, and I’m delighted to report that he said; “That sounds great! I’d like to join in!” A delightful comment in itself - but also one that might hint at an opportunity for us to work with him in schools - perhaps? So, watch this space!