Shakespeare’s The Tempest – Literacy week for year 7 students

An important part of our Literacy Strategy is to ensure that Key Stage 3 students are equipped with the key literacy skills required, and the belief that they can succeed, at GCSE level.  In order to achieve this, we aim to remove as many taboos about Literacy as early as possible and make it seem less daunting to year 7 students, as well as building their confidence with regards to school and their own abilities. 

Last half term we took a small group of year 7 students and immersed them into the Shakespeare text, The Tempest. Initially, students were worried about not being able to understand the words and the writing but by approaching the text through The Arts, the students soon became comfortable with the ideas and themes within the plot. 

These year 7 students worked with our resident artist Trudie Wilson, and English teacher, Mrs Smith to access this tricky text. Through drama, music and art the students were plunged into the Elizabethan text and encouraged to think about the characters and how they felt. 

By visiting the beach, the students were able to experience the atmosphere of the sea and understand and appreciate its power. They were able to imagine that they, too, were castaways washed up on the sand and how frightening that might have been. The beach also allowed the students to create some fantastic art works and to act out sections of the text.

When visiting the forest they were able to feel nature and talked about the language that could be used to describe the environment. Throughout the week they worked with clay to recreate characters to help further develop their understanding of the text. They depicted key scenes from the text by creating boxes inspired by Joseph Cornell and sculpting cardboard.

Back at school, students used their beach experience to compose a musical response with Mrs Peckham and later in the week, performed Act 1 Scene 1 with Mr Lyle to gain further appreciation of the text.

This project allowed students to break down any preconceived notions they may have had relating to Shakespeare. Students ended the week by producing an exhibition for parents on the Friday afternoon.  

Thanks to Miss Keogh for driving the minibus and Ms Ryan and Mrs O’Callaghan for supporting throughout the week. A big thank you to the Creative Arts Faculty for their assistance and unending positivity.