Shakespeare Schools Foundation

Shakespeare Schools Festival – Special Schools Appeal

The Shakespeare Schools Festival (SSF) gives thousands of intrepid young people the chance to perform Shakespeare's plays in professional theatres. Since its inception SSF has enabled 75,000 11-16 year olds from over 3,575 secondary schools, special schools and youth theatres to perform in 210 theatres across the UK. The Festival has grown to be one of the UK’s largest youth drama project. As part of the Festival each Teacher Director receives a full day’s workshop. 2009 sees the beginning of a four year relationship with the National Theatre (NT.) discover: National Theatre will provide the director workshops for the teachers which are so vital to the creative process. The NT will recruit top-level directors and actors who have brought Shakespeare to its three stages. SSF Teacher Directors will have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of some of the best artists working with Shakespeare anywhere in the world. Each cast receives a workshop from the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain (NYT.) The NYT will run workshops for the young casts led by experienced Associate Artists – all of whom are professional actors and /or directors. Participants will receive expert training, feedback and advice on performance skills in an informal, dynamic and creative workshop setting with one other school. Mind The Gap is one of the UK’s leading theatre companies working with learning disabled artists. Graeae is a pioneering theatre company which seeks to redress the exclusion of people with physical and sensory impairments from performance. Together, they deliver workshops for inclusive performance for teachers working with students with disabilities and difficulties of all kinds. Performances take place over two weeks in October. Every night four schools perform four different 30-minute plays in professional UK theatres in front of a paying audience. Prior to performance, each school receives a full theatre day including dress and technical rehearsals with professional venue staff and technicians. SSF is unique in its reach, as an open access, non competitive project it offers an environment for young people from all abilities and backgrounds to experience Shakespeare. The Festival places a particular emphasis on increasing arts access amongst more hard to reach young people, such as those with disabilities and difficulties. Students with disabilities and difficulties rarely get the opportunity to work in a neutral environment with other mainstream students. Access to a professional theatre space, both on stage and back-stage, and the chance to develop a close relationship with a local theatre and staff, is an equally rare occurrence. Through the Festival, Special Schools have the opportunity to integrate with mainstream students on a level playing field. Over the past few years SSF has seen a huge increase in the numbers of students with disabilities and difficulties taking part in the Festival. In 2008 students with disabilities and difficulties accounted for 15% of all Festival participants, a 33% increase on the previous Festival. SSF is committed to the all inclusive nature of the Festival; and is therefore committed to further increase the number of students with disabilities and difficulties who are given the opportunity to explore Shakespeare, and achieve in ways many never thought possible. To do this we need your help.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from 3:20 PM, 10 December 2010 to 3:20 PM, 10 December 2010

Registered Charity in England and Wales (1164676)


Amount raised





  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment


  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)



‘The Shakespeare Schools Festival has given staff the confidence to attempt a challenging project we would have never dreamt was possible.’ Jan Aries, Teacher Hillside Special School Suffolk The six month journey from fear of both the Shakespearean text and of performance, to the joy of success is significant. For many it is the first time they've risen to such a challenge and worked consistently within a group. The sense of achievement is all the richer for the hard work they've put in. SSF provides a number of resources to enable Special Schools to participate alongside mainstream schools. As well as an in-house Special Schools Coordinator, SSF offers special needs trained assistants to work with SEN pupils at venues. All workshop practitioners receive training to ensure appropriate provision, and additional director sessions explore inclusive methods of accessing Shakespeare for special school teachers. This year teachers from Special Schools will be offered additional workshops on inclusive drama methods. The benefits work both ways. By offering this integrated, non-competitive approach to creative learning, mainstream youth groups gain invaluable experience of working alongside young people with a range of profound and multiple special needs. SSF also provides extensive web resources for Special Schools to encourage teachers’ and pupils’ ongoing learning through working accounts of good practice, testimonials, links and a bibliography Two Thirds of the Festival's budget comes primarily from school registration fees and box office, with the Festival reliant on trusts, sponsors and fundraising for the remaining one third. The unit cost of participation per school is approximately £1500. The Festival therefore has to fundraise £500 per school. Shakespeare Schools Festival hopes to raise £10,000 through the big give - enough money to fund 20 special schools participation in the Festival. Please donate what ever you can afford and help us to continue the growth of this unique project. A project that is life enhancing for all those who participate and life changing for many.