The National Theatre’s Learning activity is now present in every local authority across the UK through its in-person and digital programmes. The NT’s active engagement with schools, teachers and young people is a key part of its mission to support the next generation of theatre makers and creators across the UK. The NT aims to inspire creativity, fire imaginations and boost skills for the future workforce of the sector and to build a more creative nation.
Over the past year, over 42,000 children and young people participated in National Theatre Learning activity and the NT’s schools programme delivered over 10,800 hours of in-person work, with 73% of activity happening outside of London. In addition, 85% of all UK state secondary schools are now signed up to the National Theatre Collection, allowing schools to stream the best of British Theatre directly into classrooms for free, making it easier to place arts and creativity at the heart of education.
Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said, “We recognise the impact theatre can have in sparking imagination at a young age, holding it at the heart of the National Theatre’s Learning work. We are deeply proud to be able to reach students in every local authority across the UK, providing vital, accessible and easily delivered work through our programmes to help students to strengthen their creativity and develop skills that go beyond the classroom.”
The NT’s programme of activity for schools across the next school term is now announced for teachers and students to take part in:
Thanks to our growing partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing via their digital platform Drama Online, the National Theatre Collection is expanding. Ten new titles are now live on the platform with another ten to be added in February 2024, taking the total number of titles available to state schools to stream for free in the classroom to 70, alongside learning resources.
The ten new titles now live on the National Theatre Collection are:
Phaedra, written and directed by Simon Stone, with cast including Janet McTeer
Everyman, directed by Rufus Norris, with cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor
Antony & Cleopatra, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo
Much Ado About Nothing, with Katherine Parkinson and John Heffernan
Wuthering Heights, adapted and directed by Emma Rice
The Book of Dust, directed by Nicholas Hytner
The Crucible, directed by Lyndsey Turner
Jack Absolute Flies Again, with Caroline Quentin
Our Generation, written by Alecky Blythe
NT schools touring production of The PappyShow’s Shut Up, I’m Dreaming
Following a successful pilot with Wolverhampton Central Library and Peterborough Central Library, the new titles will also be available to access for free in local public libraries across the UK to library members, making it easier than ever to watch theatre.
For primary schools
Through an exciting new partnership with the Unicorn Theatre, the following titles will also be added to the National Theatre Collection for Primary Schools:
Anansi the Spider Re-Spun
Greek Myths Unplugged: Jessie and the Jellybeans, Ariadne on the Beach, Narcissus
Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales: Rumpelstiltskin and Little Red Riding Hood
The National Theatre Collection for Primary Schools forms part of the NT’s Let’s Play programme. Let’s Play provides learning resources and teacher training to all state primary schools across the UK for free.
Coming up this term are CPDs on creating an outstanding piece of theatre in your school, Storytelling in the Primary Classroom, and Creating an Immersive Classroom.
To sign up for these CPD training sessions, visit the NT website.
For secondary schools
The NT’s 2024 Student Conference will take place on 22 January 2024 in association with Gecko Theatre, exploring their upcoming production of Ķīn. The conference will include interactive workshops with the Gecko Theatre team, exploring their devising methodology and creative process. Over 600 students will watch a school's performance of Ķīn with an exclusive post show Q&A with Artistic Director Amit Lahav.
Following previous Student Conferences, 78% of students felt more confident answering questions in their Drama exam as a result of attending. This year’s Student Conference has been designed to support students with the live theatre review component of the GCSE and A-Level specifications, with a masterclass from theatre critic Lyn Gardner as she imparts her knowledge and experience with the students on crafting effective reviews and the process behind reviewing shows.
To sign up to the 2024 Student Conference visit the NT website.
The NT will be hosting its annual Drama Teacher Conference on 15 and 16 February 2024, offering a chance for drama teachers to learn from industry professionals to inspire, inform and upskill their practice in the classroom. Workshops and masterclasses will be hosted by theatre directors Katie Mitchell and Ian Rickson, as well as theatre companies Gecko Theatre, Pilot Theatre, and Quirky Bird, exploring topics including devising, physical theatre, live multimedia practice, exploration of popular set texts and inclusive theatre practice. More artists to be confirmed.
Over the two days, the conference will offer teachers the chance to partake in workshops, network with other drama teachers and watch an NT production.
To sign up the 2024 Drama Teacher Conference visit the NT website.
Free theatre-making workshops for young people
The NT is hosting three free theatre-making workshops for those aged 16-25 later this year.
The In Focus workshops delve into how a show is created, led by members of the creative or production team. The workshops will explore upcoming productions of The Confessions, The House of Bernada Alba and The Witches, and include a free ticket to see the production.
Applications will open soon. For more information please visit the NT Website.
The National Theatre continues to welcome young people through its doors to take part in in-depth technical theatre training for future careers: Young Technicians for 14-18 year olds to explore the NT’s backstage and off-stage spaces, take part in practical workshops from leading professionals and learn about the variety of roles involved in theatre and Introduction to Stage Management for 16-21 year olds to learn about the role and skills of a stage manager.
Applications to the Nationwide Young Technicians programme will open in October, running in Nottingham, Greater Manchester and Plymouth.
Cayte McCarthy, Head of Drama and Media Studies from The Island Free School in the Isle of Wight, said “National Theatre Collection has transformed the lives of many of my pupils. I teach in a deprived area and many pupils had never been to the theatre. Using the National Theatre Collection allows us as a department to open our pupil's eyes to incredible performances and has inspired so much of the work that they and we produce. I love that my pupils watch performances such as Antigone for pleasure!”
A student attendee from the 2023 NT Student Conference said, “I genuinely believe this was so amazing, I’m so glad I got a chance to meet the creative team that make the performance possible and so outstanding.”
Brochures detailing the upcoming term of activity for primary and secondary schools can be found here. To take part in any activity please visit the National Theatre’s website.