Fairy gardens and witchy Potions

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Louise de Froment on sparking creativity, imagination and engagement.

Creating Shipwrecks and An Island Full of Noises
In my role as Workshops and Inclusion Manager at Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation (CSSF), I have the brilliant job of brokering new creative partnerships. 

The impact these partnerships  can have on children’s lives spans a wide range, including promoting life skills, social cohesion and ambition. The activities also help to promote educational attainment in curriculum areas such as literacy, literature and the performing arts. Involvement builds teamwork skills, bringing together children from very different backgrounds to collaborate in teams and perform on the same stage. Students learn to take turns, help with different jobs in their team and take responsibility for completing the task. 

By engaging with Shakespeare through drama, children’s own creativity is nurtured and the Shakespeare Schools Foundation has seen how learning for students in SEND settings can be transformed through multi-sensory, drama-based activities that are designed to be inclusive of all students. Some specially adapted activities include ‘Creating an Island Full of Noises’ and ‘Creating a Shipwreck’, with free website resources to support schools in bringing plays like Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest to life. 

It’s not only about performing though. Some children who are fearful of performing often discover that they have other skills, for example, technical know-how and interests that can be put to good use backstage. 

It’s a life-enhancing experience, not only for the children, but for the teachers and others who are involved in the activities, with CPD support for the staff delivered by an expert trainer from the Shakespeare Schools Foundation. In one year, 235 teachers received training across all the SSF projects.

Working with the National Autistic Society School, Sybil Elgar in West London
Cross-Curricular Magic Making with Students With Complex Needs 
We have recently delivered CPD to the entire staff cohort at the post 16 site. This was an energetic three hours using Shakespeare and our pedagogy as a tool and platform to introduce our way of working, and to facilitate staff in thinking about how to teach creatively across their curriculum. From making witches’ potions in HE to creating miniature fairy worlds in horticulture, the staff bowled us over with their commitment and imagination.

Next week we return to work with every student in the school (around 30 pupils), two thirds of whom are non verbal and have varying complex needs, rooted in autism. We plan to bring the students into the world of the magical forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream using images, sound and touch as well as helping them to embody the fairy characters through dance, movement and music. Of course we will also have our props and costume suitcase close to hand, you never know who may want to don a sparkly cape!

Archie’s Moment of Glory and Pride
In another school, I remember making a ‘Play in a Day’ of Macbeth. In the group there was a young person called Archie, who had additional needs and teachers told us often struggled to participate in activities with others. Although this was apparent during the workshop, there was a key turning point for Archie on that day. We were staging the final battle in the play between Macbeth and Macduff using a big group movement exercise, which required one student to lead the action from the front. Archie had been spending a lot of time with support staff at the edges of the room. But at that moment his interest was piqued. We took hold of that opportunity and encouraged him to take on a key role. The result was that he guided his peers through the series of epic battle moves that led to Macbeth’s untimely death. Archie’s engagement was totally transformed and it was an absolute delight to watch. He was engrossed and in those few minutes went from being at the periphery of the group to front and centre of the action, entirely connected with his classmates and visibly proud, excited and confident.

So often in our SEND work there are moments like these. For those of us who are privileged enough to bear witness to them, they will no doubt stay with us forever and it is these moments that remind our team again and again why drama is such an excellent tool for developing young people’s confidence, raising aspiration and providing the right skills to navigate through life positively.

  

Louise de Froment
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Louise de Froment - Workshops and Inclusion Manager

shakespeareschools.org

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