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Wilstead Primary School to lead the Way in Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘Associate Schools’ Programme

Wilstead Primary School is one of five new schools nationwide to be selected as a ‘lead’ school as part of the RSC’s national Associate Schools Programme.

The RSC Associate Schools Programme is the RSC’s long-term partnership programme with over 250 schools and 11 regional theatre partners nationwide that aims to transform experiences of Shakespeare and theatre for children, young people and their teachers.

Lead Associate Schools all demonstrate outstanding practice in using Shakespeare’s work and RSC teaching approaches to raise the achievement and aspirations of children and young people.

Each Lead Associate takes on a leadership responsibility in their regions, recruiting their own network of local schools to join the programme as RSC Associate Schools.

Teachers in Wilstead Primary School and their network of schools work with the RSC practitioners to unlock Shakespeare’s work in and through performance - pushing desks to one side, getting the children up on their feet, speaking the words out loud and exploring the plays through techniques taken from the rehearsal room. Students and teachers take part in a regular programme of workshops and performance projects that are designed by Wilstead Primary School to suit the needs of the children in their region.

Fiona Clayton, Programme Lead for the Associate Schools programme in the RSC’s Education Department said:“ The RSC is delighted to be working in partnership with Wilstead Primary School as part of the Associate Schools programme. Lead Associate Schools demonstrate a deep commitment to the teaching, learning and performance of Shakespeare plays and we have been very impressed by the Shakespeare work the school has already done. We are very much looking forward to working with Wilstead Primary and other schools in the area to develop an inspiring programme of work that makes Shakespeare exciting, accessible and fun for everyone”.

Speaking about the newly appointed Lead Schools, Director of Education for the RSC, Jacqui O’Hanlon, said:“Our Associate Schools Programme is based on a simple truth: that schools believe other schools when it comes to what makes the biggest difference to teaching practice, to aspirations and to the lives of the children they teach. Now in its third year, we are thrilled to announce our new cohort of Lead Associate Schools who demonstrate on a daily basis the impact of an arts rich curriculum on whole school communities. Lead Associate Schools are full of children, teachers and governors who inspire each other and their local communities with Shakespeare’s work. We are incredibly proud to work in partnership with such talented, passionate partners at a time when there has never been a more urgent need for work that brings us together and gives us a voice“.

Leon Robichaud, Headteacher of Wilstead Primary School, said: "We are very honoured to see that the hard work we are doing at Wilstead is being celebrated and also extremely excited to begin working with other schools. By working closely with the RSC we hope to light a fire which not only ignites an enjoyment of Shakespeare, but at the same time spark a stronger relationship with literacy for as many young children as possible in Bedford and the surrounding areas."

Cllr Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Education at Bedford Borough Council, said: “Creativity is one of the UK’s greatest success stories and I am utterly thrilled to hear that Wilstead Primary school has been selected as one of five new schools to be part of the RSC’s national associate schools programme. I am excited to see what the programme will bring to children and young people in schools in Bedford Borough, opening up opportunities and celebrating creativity.”

Wilstead Primary School will be holding a recruitment event for Associate Schools to join the programme on Wednesday 21st November 2018. For further information, please contact Deputy Headteacher, Nicki Clements at

For more information on the Associate Schools Programme and how to get involved visit: