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Leeds pupils are all a ‘Bard’ for Shakespeare celebration


Pupils from six Leeds schools are to attend a special event tomorrow to celebrate their hard work and success after taking part in the ‘Leeds Meets Shakespeare’ project.

The aim of the project was to raise the attainment of Year one pupils who have English as an Additional Language, by teaching Shakespeare through drama. Pupils from six Leeds ‘Arooj’ schools took part in the project, which were Bankside, Carr Manor, Harehills, Hunslet Moor, Kerr Mackie and New Bewerley primary schools.

The Arooj collaborative is a long-standing partnership between Leeds City Council and a group of 14 primary schools working to raise the attainment of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage pupils in Leeds. The Leeds Meets Shakespeare project was delivered by the University of York in partnership with West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds Learning Improvement Team and Tribe Arts and supported by Globe Education.

To celebrate and share the pupils’ achievement with their parents, a special event has been organised at the Carriageworks Theatre tomorrow – Thursday 21 June. As well as being awarded with certificates, the pupils will also be entertained by performances from Rosebank Primary School and Leeds-based professional theatre company, Tribe Arts.

  • Media opportunity:
  • When: Thursday 21 June at 2.30pm
  • Where: Carriageworks Theatre, Millennium Square Leeds

Members of the media are invited to attend the celebration event which will be attended by pupils who took part in the project as well as their parents, teachers and representatives from the University of York and Leeds City Council.

The project had a marked impact on pupils’ confidence and engagement particularly for lower ability and less confident pupils. It was found that using drama as a teaching method gave the more vulnerable pupils the confidence to participate.

One teacher commented: “Many of my less confident pupils (largely to do with their command of English or their more passive involvement in lessons) have found their voice and have been invigorated.”

It was also noted that pupils’ vocabulary skills had improved as a result of being exposed to the complex themes in Shakespeare’s plays. The use of drama to explore these complex themes within an exciting story plot also helped pupils to develop a good understanding of concepts such as ‘jealousy’, ‘evil’ and ‘revenge’.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for learning said:

“Projects like this make education fun, interesting and relevant for pupils. By working in partnership with some excellent professional organisations from across the region we have been able to offer these pupils a wonderful experience which will have a lasting impact on their education and progress.”

Arooj is an Urdu word meaning ‘ascendancy’. Pakistani heritage pupils are the largest ethnic minority group in Leeds, accounting for 6% of the overall school pupil population and are a key priority for the council as attainment levels for these pupils remains below their peers both in Leeds and nationally.