Workshops at Mary Arden’s Farm
The Government’s roadmap to easing lockdown has meant that school trips are back on, and pupils from Kineton Primary School were one of the first to enjoy the new Tudors Alive living history education workshops at Mary Arden’s Farm, the family home of Shakespeare’s mother.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has reopened Mary Arden’s Farm as a dedicated outdoor education facility with special access for local and regional primary schools this year, offering pupils an authentic Tudor learning experience in a safe and secure environment.
The children participated in a range of hands-on activities delivered within Covid-compliant guidelines. They included making wattle and daub, designing individual wall hangings, churning butter by hand, playing games, gardening and learning to jig Tudor–style. They also performed extracts from Macbeth, explored the grounds and met some of the rare-breed animals.
Nicola Hawley, primary education manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “It was rather special to be able to host school workshops on site once again after what has been a very difficult period. As an authentic Tudor venue, Mary Arden’s Farm brings Shakespeare’s story vividly to life and as such, it has always been an important site for the Trust’s education programme. While the pandemic presented an opportunity to pivot our education offer and develop new digital learning packages for schools, we’re delighted that we can now return to engaging children with Shakespeare in person and in a wonderful setting like Mary Arden’s Farm.”
Katie Barrit, Year 5 class teacher from Kineton Primary School said, “The Tudors Alive workshop engaged my class from start to finish in a practical and experiential way. The creative use of the farm buildings and grounds ensured that the children were safe and able to interact fully in small groups and build a good rapport with their guide. They were left smiling, satisfied and enthused yet sad to leave. However, full of great wisdom and learning that will stay with them for years to come. Even the teaching staff and helpers learnt some new things.”
With the Shakespeare Centre currently closed to the public, Mary Arden’s Farm has been adapted to offer a Covid-secure experience for primary education programmes with the infrastructure to offer a one-way system, outdoor learning spaces for individual school groups and picnic areas. Since 2017 over 6,500 primary school children have enjoyed education workshops there, as well as elements of the Trust’s Arts Council-funded Museums & Schools programme. For more information see www.shakespeare.org.uk/education.
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