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Sir Lenny Henry launches On Demand in Schools Primary 

The second phase of the National Theatre's digital initiative for schools to access theatre on demand has launched

Posted by Hannah Oakman | November 08, 2016 | Teaching

Sir Lenny Henry, who was appointed to the National Theatre Board in February 2016, launched On Demand in Schools Primary at Shenley Academy, Birmingham. The academy is a mixed secondary school and sixth form and was first opened in 2009, with E-ACT as the school’s academy sponsor.


On Demand in Schools Primary is the second phase of the National Theatre’s digital initiative offering acclaimed curriculum-linked productions free of charge, to schools across the country. Every primary and secondary school in the UK can now access world-class theatre on demand with Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure Treasure Island, the first primary age production (suitable for KS2) to be made available. 

One year on from the launch of On Demand in Schools Secondary, one third of all state secondary schools have signed up to the free digital programme. Ian Horgan, Assistant Principal at Shenley Academy said: “We have been using On Demand in Schools for the last year and in that time pupils and teachers have found it a brilliant resource. Flexibility in lesson planning is important for any school and the programme means teachers can study key scenes with students or show the full production over a number of lessons. As specialist software is not required to watch the plays and streams can be viewed on multiple devices, we are able to use the service across a number of subjects to support lessons in every year group.” 

Sir Lenny Henry said: “The National Theatre was founded with a mission to educate as well as entertain and many of us working in the arts can remember an experience at school – a theatre visit, an inspiring teacher, meeting a professional artist – as the ignition to their career or enduring passion for the art form. If we can engage school children in the arts from an early age, the evidence tells us that they will have an interest in, and desire to, engage in the arts throughout their lifetime.” 

On Demand in Schools Primary complements trips to see live performances, enabling students to study plays day-to-day in their classroom. The plays are recorded in high definition in front of a live theatre audience by the National theatre’s award-winning NT Live team. Available exclusively to UK schools, comprehensive learning resources produced by teachers and leading artists support each play; teachers can show the full production or watch key scenes over a number of lessons.  

Alice King-Farlow, Director of Learning at the NT, said: “On Demand in Schools Secondary has seen over a third of state schools across the UK sign up to the initiative in just one year. That success (and demand) has confirmed our belief that teachers and schools across the UK are passionate about giving young people access to inspirational theatre and embedding the arts as a vital part of the curriculum. We are thrilled to be launching On Demand in Schools Primary and offering children of all age ranges access to world-class theatre in a curriculum-linked, classroom setting.”

On Demand in Schools is made possible by the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Sidney E. Frank Foundation, and it is part of the National Theatre’s wide ranging commitment to learning which includes ConnectionsNew Views and touring productions for schools. Productions for primary schools are supported by The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity.

For more information, visit


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