Youngsters have been helping to celebrate the life and work of one of England’s most famous writers.
Year 6 pupils from Whytrig Community Middle School and Seaton Sluice Middle School starred alongside children’s author Michael Rosen in a special Shakespeare performance broadcast to primary schools across the UK.
Taking place at the Playhouse Whitley Bay, both schools presented a short performance based on Romeo and Juliet and took part in a debate about the moral issues raised by the play.
The event helped launch the annual Shakespeare Week celebration.
It also showcased the skills and vocabulary the children have learned during the first Shakespeare Hub Schools workshops, delivered by experts at the Noisy Classroom.
Michael Rosen chaired the debates and spoke about his love of language and why Shakespeare was a creative inspiration.
The 90-minute performance was recorded for broadcast on the Shakespeare Week website during the celebration event, running from March 18 to 24.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity behind the success of the Shakespeare Week celebration for primary aged children, is establishing a network of hub schools across England to deepen and enrich the experiences of young people.
One of its aims is to use Shakespeare’s work to wage war on the ‘word gap’.
Officials say there is growing evidence that young children have a significant shortfall in vocabulary, which is holding back their learning and has a long-term impact on their communication, creative and critical thinking skills and confidence.
Jacqueline Green, head of learning and participation at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “More needs to be done to address the word gap in primary schools.
“Our language is changing constantly, but the next generation’s vocabulary is shrinking.
“This year we are encouraging children participating in Shakespeare Week and our Shakespeare Hub Schools programmes to become Will’s Word Warriors.
“Shakespeare’s imaginative and inventive language is tinder to ignite young minds and can inspire a love of language.”
Since launching in 2014, more than 6.5 million children have taken part in Shakespeare Week.