Over the past two weeks, 120 children across the Three Saints Academy Trust have worked with Shakespeare North’s resident poet, Charlie Staunton, to discover the poetry of Shakespeare through a selection of bespoke sessions aimed at exploring creativity and culture.
The project culminated in a poetry slam competition, where the children created and performed poems on a variety of topics such as the importance of friendship, their favourite teacher, cats vs dogs and how much they hate mushy peas.
Dr Helen O’Keeffe, Associate Dean in Edge Hill’s Faculty of Education said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Shakespeare North Playhouse on what we hope is the first of many projects aimed at developing the skills and talents of pupils within our region. Their visits to campus opened up new possibilities and the visits to the stunning new facilities at Shakespeare North provided opportunities for pupils to engage with the cultural offering in their region.”
Mr Thomas Riley a teacher from St Michael with St Thomas School said: “Being part of the project has really improved our pupils’ oracy skills and confidence. The kids said it has taken them out of their comfort zone and they’re proud that they performed in front of a big crowd, something they didn’t think they could do before.”
The children attended two sessions at Shakespeare North Playhouse, taught by resident poet Charlie Staunton, before the grand final was held on Edge Hill’s campus, giving the children a taste of university life.
Abi, a pupil from St Michael with St Thomas School, won the poetry slam with an impassioned poem about her dislike for mushy peas. She said, “I liked making all the words rhyme and putting a beat to it. Reading out my poem was fun, I got to show off all my ideas. Visiting the University has been great, and I liked listening to everyone’s poetry.”
Charlie Staunton from Shakespeare North Playhouse said: “Working with the schools in the Three Saints Academy Trust has been a joy every step of the way. With the initial encouragement and guidance from me, and continued support from their fantastic teachers and school staff, 120 young poets took to the stage at Edge Hill and blew everyone away with their courage, writing and enthusiastic performances.
“It was a pleasure to be part of it and myself and the rest of my colleagues at Shakespeare North Playhouse are immensely proud of everything they have achieved and look forward to our continued partnership with Edge Hill and The Three Saints Academy Trust.”
The bespoke lessons were designed to boost the children’s confidence and give them a taste of performing for large crowds. They also developed their writing skills, seeking to express modern ideas using the same methods as Shakespeare.
Grace a pupil from Rainhill St Ann’s School said: “I enjoyed how fun it was, and Charlie was really nice and we had a great tour of campus and we all tried our best. I’ve also learnt that you don’t have to rhyme to be a great poet.”
Lucas a pupil from St Mary with St Thomas School said: “I learnt how to rhyme different words and writing the poems has been fun. My team wrote about how much we hate mushrooms, they’re horrible.”
The partnership is developing additional projects and opportunities later this year.
For more information about courses at Edge Hill University, visit the website www.edgehill.ac.uk.
March 31, 2023