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Shakespeare 400 Pilot : Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scotland Using Textlab and the Classics

Russell, Rebecca and Hope, Jonathan and Collins, Robert (2016) Shakespeare 400 Pilot : Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scotland Using Textlab and the Classics. [Report]

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The attainment gap is a key concern in current Scottish education policy. It is envisaged that the learning outcomes of an innovative collaborative project between the Department of English and School of Education at the University of Strathclyde may help redress some of the underlying concern associated with this phenomenon. The Shakespeare 400 project was designed to assist in addressing this gap, and through enhancements to pupil engagement in classic literacy, is aimed at contributing to a reversal of the substantial drop in Reading, Listening & Talking figures across transition stages (P7 – S2). Using known best practice regarding interdisciplinary approach and collaborative group work, its transformative and genre-based pedagogical approach in project activity begins with a fictitious ‘crime’ committed by one of Shakespeare’s famous characters. Using their skills in literacy and technologies, pupils then must read, analyse and evaluate an anonymous confession note in order to identify the guilty party from amongst a bank of ‘suspects’. This computer-based activity meets several Curriculum for Excellence learning outcomes in Literacy and Technologies, and can also encourage students to engage with their lessons outside of class. This paper will first locate the Shakespeare 400 project within current education policy and the curriculum, and then discuss the nature of the project itself and the feedback from its pilot study at a primary school in Glasgow.