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Chris Green: The Education Committee of the British Shakespeare Association

Chris Green, Chair of the BSA’s Education Committee, tells us about the committee’s activities, aims, and objectives.

The Education committee has been a key aspect of the structure of the British Shakespeare Association for several years. It is one of a number of sub-committees within the BSA. The Education committee aims to represent the study of Shakespeare across all sectors of education, but focuses especially on work in schools and colleges (from Early Years to Sixth Form). Members of the committee are drawn from those with a particular interest in the study of Shakespeare from Key Stages 1 to 5 (and in the transition to the level beyond that). In recent years the committee has generally been inactive, but concerted efforts have been made to revive the committee in recent months, to add new members, and to rejuvenate the work of Education by meeting regularly. The current members of the committee are: Mary Carey, Karen Eckersall, Chris Green, Wendy Lennon, Myfanwy Marshall, Helen Mears, Emma Smith, and Fiona Williams. James Stredder recently retired from the committee after many years’ service. The Chair of the committee is required to attend meetings of the full BSA Board of Trustees, and the Chair aims to ensure that information is transferred appropriately between the committee and the Board (and back again). The committee meets virtually, three times-per-year, and operates as a network for the open exchange of information and ideas connected to Shakespeare in education.

The Education committee of the BSA is concerned with current issues in the teaching and learning of Shakespeare, in schools, colleges and universities. It aims to be wide-ranging and inclusive, for example by embracing a regional focus and by covering areas such as home schooling. During the pandemic the committee coordinated a range of support materials for the teaching of Shakespeare, both for BSA members and for members of the wider public.

More broadly the committee is currently considering a range of topical issues related to the teaching of Shakespeare in schools and colleges, including:

  • The question of race in Shakespeare, and the place of decolonising the school curriculum in this respect.
  • The importance of creative and imaginative responses to Shakespeare in the context of the current growth of the ‘knowledge’ agenda and the recent controversial Ofsted English curriculum research review.
  • The place of Shakespeare in examination specifications.
  • The role of Shakespeare studies and the decline of A-Level English Literature take-up.
  • Progression within the curriculum and the place of Shakespeare.

In addition the committee aims to:

  • Monitor and respond to current research.
  • Arrange major contributions to BSA annual conferences.
  • Respond to queries made via the BSA website about education issues.
  • Support charities (such as Off the Curriculum).
  • Support students taking EPQ and HPQ qualifications with a Shakespeare focus.
  • Liaise with major organisations with a Shakespeare focus.
  • Work with publishers to support the development of new resources.
  • Offer practical advice for the teaching of Shakespeare.
  • Organise TeachMeets and other events.

The committee is responsible for overseeing publication of the BSA’s magazine Teaching Shakespeare. After editing the magazine for several years, Sarah Olive has recently handed over the editorship to Myfanwy Marshall. Details about Teaching Shakespeare, past editions, and information about submissions may be found on the BSA website.

If you have any questions about the work of the BSA Education committee, or if you would like to make any suggestions, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Chair via the BSA’s ‘Contact Us’ form by selecting the ‘Education Enquiry’ option. Please also feel free to get in touch if you would like to express an interest in joining the committee.

Further information about the Education work of the BSA may be found on the website. New members of the BSA are always welcome, and we are very keen to increase Education membership of the organisation. There is a concessionary fee for teachers.

Chris Green

BSA Trustee and Chair of the BSA Education Committee

See also: Chris Green, ‘The Drama of Drama’ (a blog written for the National Association for the Teaching of Drama).

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