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RSC Associate Schools Programme

The RSC Associate Schools Programme is our long-term partnership programme. We want to use the next academic year to support resilient learners using the power of Shakespeare.


The Associate Schools programme is open to secondary, primary and special state schools in England and we seek to recruit schools from across Lancashire, that serve areas of relatively high socio-economic deprivation.


The programme is built around the principle of schools working in local partnerships to develop communities of practice, our partnership here in the North West is vibrant and resolute.


The fundamental ambition of the Associate School Programme is to bring about a significant change in the way young people experience, engage with, and take ownership of the work of Shakespeare.


Teachers learn to explore Shakespeare with their students in the way actors do in a rehearsal room, using dynamic, active approaches. Having a laugh is the key!


Want to join the Associate Schools Programme?

If you are interested in joining the Associate Schools programme, you will join a regional and national network of schools and theatres committed to transforming experiences of Shakespeare and live theatre for young people. We want to build a local community of schools to share practice, pedagogy and performance. We are looking for schools with at least two teachers that will lead the programme in their school, have senior management and governor support and will be committed to engage for the academic year 20-21


The Resilience Revolution is high on the agenda in Blackpool, we are all working in co-production, to help build pupil’s abilities to “see the difference, feel the difference and be the difference”. This could not be timelier in the current climate, concentrating on pupil’s well-being and giving them tools to bounce forward in challenging circumstances. As well as a continued focus on the high quality, literacy outcomes of this programme of work, we are also challenging ourselves to look at the resilience of Shakespeare’s powerful characters. Using Story led Resilient Therapy; we will examine Shakespeare’s Stories, to find ways to support our students to “beat the odds whilst changing the odds”.


If you are ardent and eager to join us complete the questions on the statement of commitment form and return it along with the partnership agreement to: by September 9th 2020


Download: RSC Associate Schools Statement of Commitment.


Deadline for sign up 9 September 2020.


‘We are very proud to Partner in the RSC Associate Schools Programme. Blackpool Grand Theatre has been delighted to work with over 35 schools over the past eight years and has seen so many magnificent performances on our stage by such talented local children and young people.


‘Over 2000 young Shakespearean actors have performed on the stage.


‘These young actors own Shakespeare; they embody his language and give new insights into his plays and characters. In our special 125th birthday year we have managed to have two Play-Making Festivals. Their performance and life skills that have developed through this programme are immense. Increased confidence, stronger resilience, speaking and listening skills, group work and problem solving, stage-craft, using complex language and of course acting!’


Ruth Eastwood Grand Theatre Chief Executive


‘It has been a real joy and a privilege to witness the enthusiasm of the children and young people through their engagement with Shakespeare’s plays; a central part of which is our work with all of you through the Associate Schools programme.

‘Performance is just one element of the fantastic work taking place as part of the RSC’s cultural education programme. Working as part of this teaching and learning network, Shakespeare’s works are brought to life through the teaching of ‘active approaches’ across the Associate Schools, as well as through the work of the strong young people’s Shakespeare Ambassador network. So many practitioners are passionate about the power of arts and cultural education; our partnerships are working to make real change to ensure every young person can learn in an arts and culture rich school.


I hope that more schools are able to join the RSC Associate Schools Programme as it has promoted creativity, collaboration, confidence and critical thinking in our children and young people as well as well as providing a unique platform to develop cultural awareness and empathy. I also thank all at The Grand Theatre for their work and support of this opportunity of bringing schools together for this common purpose. Our Lady’s is so proud to be the lead associate school and part of this wonderful experience.’


Melanie Haggerty, Head Teacher, Our Lady of the Assumption, Catholic Primary School


More information about the Associate Schools Programme can be found on the RSC website.


By joining the Associate Schools programme you will be able to:

• Develop the teaching practice of Shakespeare in your school;
• Connect with theatres and schools across the country;
• Access unique, high quality, opportunities for staff development;
• Become part of a national research programme about the impact of Shakespeare’s work on young people;
• Receive support towards becoming an Artsmark school.


The Qualities of an Associate School

  • An Associate School is committed to the teaching, learning and performance of Shakespeare’s plays using RSC rehearsal room practice.
  • Extensive use is made of the full Associate Schools offer.
  • Theatre-making and seeing performances are core entitlements for all pupils.
  • Rehearsal room pedagogy is an embedded and regular part of classroom practice in most classrooms (English and Drama departments in secondary and across all year groups in a primary school).
  • Senior management in the school are supportive of and advocate for the work. The school collects data about the impact of the work on teachers and pupils.
  • The school has at least two lead teachers who meet regularly to plan, share impact data and lead practice across the school.


Opportunities for September 2020 – July 2021

We are unable to accurately predict what the next academic year will look like. However, we want to offer you a blended learning programme that places Shakespeare’s work and active approaches at the centre of the pedagogy to engage children in the rich language and world of Shakespeare’s plays.

This year we want to respond to the unique situation schools find themselves in as they move into a transition and recovery period after lockdown and covid-19.


In response, we want to offer in addition the opportunity to explore a Shakespeare play through the theme of resilience as you strive to offer a broad and balance curriculum in line with Government expectations. We have chosen A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There will be training for teachers and resources that support the exploration of this play, its characters and themes to identify areas of the plot linked with; resilience, belonging, coping and dealing change.


This offer is optional and is part of a suite of training, workshops and resources that we will be developing through a blended mixture of digital and face to face contact. There will be digital offers from the RSC Education team too.


Story Led Resilience

The Grand Theatre has developed and tested its innovative Story-Led Resilience Model over the past 4 years, based on the Resilience Framework originally devised in 2007 (ref; A. Hart et al).


Our aim is to provide children and young people with resilient skills, first, for beating the odds in their lives and secondly for changing those odds. We believe that resilience is like a muscle, that it requires exercise and practice to grow strong.

Our model integrates two types of assets: the needs and actions set out in the Resilience Framework and the stories our children act out, read and see presented on our stage. Artists and teachers work with the children using arts processes and practices to explore stories through a resilience lens to enable children to define, explore and practice resilience skills.


The Grand Theatre has on its team a Resilient Trainer and three Resilient Practitioners who run the training course and support colleagues through their projects.


Associate Schools A Midsummer Night’s Dream offer:

  • Mid/Late September 2020 Zoom Twilight CPD for all staff. It is amazing how creative we are learning to be on Zoom! The community of practice is so important for our work together and we hope to recreate the best possible opportunity, to share active approaches, without being in a room together.
  • Throughout the year we will explore the themes of the chosen play and offer guidance for linking to the resilience framework. Bespoke resources will be available to support resilient learning, linked to Resilient Storytelling and Shakespeare.
  • Full Day Spring CPD (or Zoom equivalent)
  • Access to RSC, Grand Theatre & Our Lady of the Assumption resources and Schemes of Work along with sharing platforms for good practice.
  • Digital showcase opportunity in May 2021 – we hope there will be an opportunity to come together.
  • Links with the national programme of activity with the RSC, National School & Theatre Partners.




18 RSC and Blackpool Grand Theatre Associate schools took part in our Regional Schools’ Shakespeare Festival. Over 400 local Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde children performing were astounding in their performances of Macbeth.