Case Study: Thinking outside the box with field trips

Date Posted: 15/05/2015

This summer, a group of Key Stage 5 pupils from Stratford, East London, will undertake an ambitious school trip in conjunction with the Canal & River Trust.

From 27th June to 4th July, 30 pupils from Chobham Academy will take part in a new educational programme called Stratford 2 Stratford, which will see students travel through the network of canals that connect Stratford, East London, to Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

The students will use the canals as inspiration to create a performance based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream whilst developing interpersonal skills through practical activities.

The project’s itinerary will engage pupils in three to four hours of rehearsals a day, which could involve re-enacting a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, acting out a section of the text in contemporary diction, or simply creating a scene through improvisation.

Other activities will include the students documenting their progress through portfolios and social media, making meals for each other, attending a variety of educational workshops and visits to famous locations such as Mary Arden’s House and Farm, The Dell and the Stratford Amphitheatre.
In preparation for the journey, participants have taken part in an intensive rehearsal process, which included a workshop with the Royal Shakespeare Company. This preparation will give the students more time to take inspiration from the constantly changing external environment when they are actually on the trip, and to enhance their performance and learn practical skills such as how to open locks and how to steer a boat.

Claire Risino, campaign manager from the Canal & River Trust described the processes behind the programme’s inception: “Our chairman Tony Hales absolutely loves canals and is into the arts and particularly theatre. In conversations between Tony and the London [canal management] partnerships, they came up with this idea and they thought it might be too farfetched but when you think about it, it can totally work. Tony came to us and was like ‘what do you reckon, do you think we can do this?’ And we’re doing it.” 

The pupils are Key Stage 5 students studying for a BTEC in Performing Arts. As Chobham Academy has specialisms in the subjects of English and Performing Arts, teachers decided to use the Stratford 2 Stratford programme to get students to connect with the National Curriculum through a unique outside-the-classroom experience. 

Claire Risino commented on the self-confidence the programme will instil in the pupils, some of whom have never been outside of London: “This project really is about the students building confidence. This journey will give them an opportunity to learn something new about themselves as well as Shakespeare and the canals. I hope that this project will have an impact on the way they feel about themselves.”

During their trip, the students will also learn about the experiential side of canals, something that Claire Risino really appreciates: “The canals become floating stages – performance doesn’t always have to be inside a comfy theatre. This project emphasises the importance of nature so the children can be inspired by the environment not just the words in the text.

What people like about the canals is the way they physically bring the countryside into urban centres. These children have seen canals in east London but never followed them out. They now have the opportunity to see where this canal, which is on their doorstep, leads them and I think that gives them an incredible sense of freedom.”

Stratford 2 Stratford will take place from 27th June to 4th July with Tech TV chronicling the student’s journey. You can track the project’s progress by following #bardsonboats.

School Travel Organiser's Guide