THE launch has taken place which sees Bradford College given the lead for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s associate schools project.

The accolade means the college will work with a number of primary and secondary schools in the area, as well as the Alhambra Theatre, over the next two years on performing Shakespeare plays.

Following this there will be the option of continuing for a further three years.

Damien O’Keeffe, head of the McMillan Centre for the Arts in Education, said he was delighted to continue links with the RSC.

He was present at the launch held at the Alhambra Theatre, in Bradford, today where some of the young people from Samuel Lister Academy and Bingley Grammar School who had already been involved with the RSC’s work last year shared their experiences.

Both the schools have completed three years with the RSC’s learning performance network.

“This is a really exciting transition from the learning performance network which Bradford schools have been involved in for the past four years.

“It will see work being done with 15 schools from across the Bradford district, developing teachers’ confidence to teach Shakespeare in classrooms by learning through performance.

“It is a curriculum-wide opportunity for schools where Shakespeare can be used in other areas such as art and history as well as English literature and drama.”

Bradford College’s lead school status comes after it successfully worked with schools earlier this year on a performance of Julius Caesar at the Alhambra Theatre, and last month, at the Swan Theatre in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the RSC’s National Schools Festival.

Last year Samual Lister pupils took to the stage in the Alhambra to perform alongside professional and amateur actors in a five-night run of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.

The link-up between the schools and the RSC has led to three pupils from the district being hand-picked by the RSC to be part of a five-year programme called the Next Generation Act. They are Scout Worsley and Hassan Azan, from Samuel Lister Academy and Haaris Qaiser from Bingley Grammar School.

They make up part of the company’s first young acting company and were picked to pursue a career in acting.

Lizzie Hutchinson, English teacher at Samual Lister Academy, said: “The school has seen a brilliant response from pupils since introducing Shakespeare in this way. Pupils have really progressed and have actively sought to become involved.

“It has been wonderful to be involved and to see the results.”