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Education News

Children to be taught Shakespeare at five

Children as young as five are to be given lessons in Shakespeare, it was announced today.

A support package, including a DVD of animated adaptations of Shakespeare tales, will be offered to every primary school in England under a new Government initiative.

And a guidance booklet, giving practical ideas on teaching the Bard's work, will be sent to every school in the country.

The booklet, Shakespeare For All Ages And Stages, includes tips on teaching pupils of any age about Shakespeare, and has been put together in collaboration with experts from the Globe Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).

Schools Minister Jim Knight said every child should be given the opportunity to enjoy Shakespeare's work from a young age.

He said: "Shakespeare is the most famous playwright of all time. One of our great Britons, his work is studied all over the world.

"It is fitting then that his work is a protected part of the curriculum in the country he came from. But I want to go further to ensure that Shakespeare can be enjoyed as much as possible and from a younger age."

Some secondary pupils, aged between 11 and 14, will continue to be given the opportunity to see a live Shakespeare performance.

A total of £1.5 million has been provided to allow Key Stage 3 (11-14) pupils in "Making Good Progress" (MPG) schools to attend performances. Many have already benefited from the money, attending RSC performances of productions including The Taming Of The Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Jacqui O'Hanlon, acting director of education at the RSC, said: "This endorses the inspirational practice that is already happening in many primary and secondary schools across the country.

"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 are very clearly in evidence in Shakespeare For All Ages And Stages."

Mick Waters, director of curriculum at the QCA, 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 to life in the classroom."

The works of Shakespeare, who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and died in 1616, include Romeo And Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth.