Page last updated at 23:05 GMT, Sunday, 6 July 2008 00:05 UK

Shakespeare 'for five-year-olds'

BY Hannah Richardson
Education reporter, BBC News Website

Shakespeare first folio
All children have to study a Shakespeare play in secondary school

Primary school children as young as five are to be given an early insight into the work of William Shakespeare.

A government initiative will see schools in England being sent a support package including DVDs of adaptations of his plays in its original language.

Guidance in the form of a booklet called Shakespeare For All Ages and Stages will be sent to all schools.

Schools minister Jim Knight said the Bard's work should be enjoyed as much as possible from a young age.

Getting to grips with Shakespeare's verse is a challenge for teachers and young people alike
Mick Waters

The booklet includes tips on bringing the writing of Shakespeare alive for children from the age of five to 16.

And pupils in some secondary schools will get the chance of seeing a live Shakespeare performance.


Mr Knight said Shakespeare was the most famous playwright of all time and his work was studied all over the world.

He said: "It is fitting then that his work is a protected part of the curriculum in the country he came from."

Already all children have to study one complete Shakespeare play in secondary school.

"But I want to go further to ensure that Shakespeare can be enjoyed as much as possible and from a younger age," he said.

Mick Waters of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said: "Teachers can make young people's experience of Shakespeare an inspiring one and nurture a lifelong interest in the playwright.

"But getting to grips with Shakespeare's verse is a challenge for teachers and young people alike.

"'Shakespeare For All Ages and Stages' will help by suggesting a range of innovative and practical ideas to help bring Shakespeare alive in the classroom."

'See it live'

Ian McNeilly from the National Association for the Teaching of English said: "Some of the language in the plays would be beyond pupils under a certain age, but the earlier children are introduced to Shakespeare the better.

"It's all down to the approach. You can bore people of any age with the wrong approach and you can enthuse people of any age with the correct one."

Acting director of education at the Royal Shakespeare Company Jacqui O'Hanlon said many secondaries and primaries were already teaching Shakespeare in an inspirational way.

"In our manifesto for Shakespeare in schools, Stand up for Shakespeare, we call for young people to do Shakespeare on their feet, see it live and start it earlier."

These principles were very clearly in evidence in the new scheme, she said.

Fiona Banks, head of learning at Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe, in Southwark, London, said the initiative would help "students engage with Shakespeare's plays - as plays - to be experienced practically and through performance".

Pupils urged to embrace the Bard
03 Mar 08 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Shakespeare gets comic treatment
11 May 07 |  Education
Shakespeare on podcast for pupils
17 Apr 07 |  Education
Appeal over Shakespeare lessons
15 Sep 06 |  Education
Teachers split over Shakespeare
02 Feb 07 |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific