BRADFORD College has been celebrated its second year of working with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which culminated in a huge performance of Romeo & Juliet.

As an RSC Lead Associate School, the college works with schools across the district to spread the joy of Shakespeare’s works.

This year’s work came to a head earlier this summer when 120 young people from the college, Baildon Church School Feversham Academy, Low Ash Primary, Skipton Academy, St Bede’s & St Joseph’s and Titus Salt performing a production of the class Romeo & Juliet at Salts Mill in front of a packed audience.

Each school took a section of the play and interpreted it in their own way, handing on the story to each other on the night to produce a moving spectacle for the crowd.

Susan Adams, from Baildon Church School said: “Never under estimate the power of the performing arts to boost every child’s self-worth and confidence.

“Hearing our students speaking Shakespeare’s language so eloquently and making it their own has been wonderful.

“Sometimes I forget that they are only 10 years old and not actually members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.”

Two days later, two students from Bradford College attended the inaugural meeting of the RSC Youth Advisory Board, which gives young people an active role in determining how the RSC operates.

Ambassadors Krystina Vavrova and Hareth Alshaban travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon to work with 20 other young people from across the country.

Last month another eight Bradford students travelled to Stratford to take part in the RSC Playmaking Festival at The Swan Theatre to again perform a section of Romeo & Juliet alongside young people from other parts of the UK.

Julia O’Keeffe, learning coordinator at Bradford Theatres, directed the group’s performance.

She said: “It was lovely to finally get the whole cast together in Stratford and to build on the work we had already done in the individual schools.

“The performance they gave was truly amazing and looked like they had been rehearsing together for weeks.

“This demonstrates the power of the language and the determination and dedication of the young people.”

Bradford College was the first further or higher education college in the UK to be made an RSC Lead Associate in 2017, and since then it has worked with more than 2,000 students across a dozen schools.

It has also provided training to teachers to give them the confidence to teach Shakespeare using the same methods actors at the RSC do.

Damien O’Keeffe, leader of the RSC programme at Bradford College, added: “The relationship we have with the RSC and Bradford Theatres is a very important one and has had a huge impact on the education of young people in Bradford.

“The skills young people learn through being involved with this project are truly transferable and go far beyond performing on stage or preparing an answer on an English test.

“I have seen some truly remarkable transformations in some of the young people we have worked with over the last two years.

“Working in this way builds confidence, problem solving skills, team work, curiosity, respect and empathy; all vital skills in the workplace and wider world.

“The students get to discuss some very pertinent and sometimes tricky issues in a way they can’t do in a standard classroom lesson. Discussion, debate and critical thinking are all important parts of the process when working in a rehearsal room and they are just as important in school.”