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Shakespeare Week 2017  to kick off with a musical twist

This year's Shakespeare week is packed with activities designed to share and celebrate the bard's work

Posted by Hannah Vickers | March 02, 2017 | Events

On 20th March, two million children in 12,000 primary schools across the UK will break into song in celebration of all things Shakespeare. Shakespeare Week 2017 will start with the Big Shakespeare Assembly, featuring a brand new song - Shakespeare Rocks! - especially composed for the occasion. The music theme will continue throughout the week with a Composition Competition in partnership with Birmingham Conservatoire, and new music resources created by ABRSM (the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) along with free access to the Classical 100 online platform. 

Shakespeare Week was launched by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 2014 as a way to share and celebrate the bard's work, life and times with every primary school child in the country. Now in its fourth year, Shakespeare Week 2017 provides teachers, home educators and families with free resources and ideas to teach about Shakespeare across all subjects in the national curriculum including numeracy, geography, and computing. 

This year’s Shakespeare Week is supported by new patrons – world renowned classical musician Julian Lloyd Webber, and award-winning children’s author Marcia Williams. Shakespeare Week is also going digital with Mission Shakespeare, a free online interactive challenge for children to take their Shakespeare learning beyond the classroom.  

We think it is vital that every child should have opportunities to experience the best of our heritage and culture - Jacqueline Green, Head of Learning and Participation at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Jacqueline Green, Head of Learning and Participation at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “We are proud to be establishing Shakespeare Week in the annual primary school calendar at a time when arts education is increasingly under pressure. We think it is vital that every child should have opportunities to experience the best of our heritage and culture. That is why we are working with partners - musicians, theatre companies, galleries and museums, libraries and storytellers - up and down the country. This year’s theme of music has given us the chance to work with new partners and will give primary school teachers the opportunity to take Shakespeare into their classrooms and, with their children, discover Shakespeare in new, intriguing and fun ways.”

What’s happening during Shakespeare Week: 

Kicking off Shakespeare Week on 20th March will be the Big Shakespeare Assembly, where primary schools are invited to perform a brand new song - Shakespeare Rocks! Registered schools will have free access to the musical score as well as vocal and backing tracks ready for the Big Shakespeare Assembly. 

Shakespeare goes digital 

Thanks to a partnership with Coventry University and DigitalMe, children will have access to a free online interactive challenges - Mission Shakespeare, brimming with fun activities and games to complete at home for a chance to earn special digital badges.

Composition Competition – in association with Birmingham Conservatoire

Enter the Shakespeare-inspired Composition Competition. Pupils can create a soundscape for the Forest of Arden, a lullaby inspired by the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream or a magical melody for Macbeth’s witches – in any musical style or genre. The Birmingham Conservatoire has developed resources to help schools with their musical masterpieces. 

Five winning entries will be chosen to work with the Conservatoire’s vocal leader Lucy Griffiths and will have the opportunity to perform a specially arranged version of their composition alongside musicians from Birmingham Conservatoire at a Celebration Concert in June. 

Telling Tales with The Tempest

Marcia Williams, author of Tales from Shakespeare will be reading The Tempest in five instalments during Shakespeare Week. Every day, children can tune in online to follow the story of Prospero, the wronged Duke of Milan and find out how he eventually reconciles with the brother who ousted him.  

Free award-winning resources for schools and home educators

Registered teachers will have access to over 150 free resources across every curriculum subject in KS1 and KS2, offering a fantastic suite of ideas and teaching aides to make Shakespeare fun for pupils. Home educators and families can also access these resources and celebrate Shakespeare Week at home. 

Classical 100 – in partnership with Classic FM, ABRSM & Decca Classics

Primary school teachers can register for free at to access the 100 pieces of classical music to play in the classroom during Shakespeare Week. There are six pieces which are either by contemporaries of Shakespeare or have been inspired by Shakespeare's works.  The ABRSM has also developed a range of interesting resources on music in Shakespeare’s time.

Get out and about

Shakespeare Week is supported by some of the country’s best loved cultural institutions, from museums and galleries, to theatres and heritage attractions, all hosting an exciting programme of activities throughout the week. Many local libraries are also taking part in Shakespeare Week, offering a range of fun activities including Rhyme Time with a Shakespearian twist for pre-schoolers. 

Shakespeare Week is, of course, the perfect time to visit the five historic Shakespeare houses in Stratford-upon-Avon. With a jam-packed programme of family activities throughout the week, from quill writing and making musical instruments from junk materials, to Tudor music workshops and performances by local drama and musical theatre groups, there’s plenty of fun to be had. But if you can’t make it to Stratford, you could always catch a virtual tour of Shakespeare’s Birthplace online, hosted by local school children. 

Shakespeare Week is a free scheme for primary school children and their families, run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. To register, access free resources and take part in Shakespeare Week 2017, visit

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