Stoke Newington School students in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photograph: Phoebe Gardiner

Year 7 students at Stoke Newington School last month took part in a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a project designed to help them settle into secondary school.

The performance was the culmination of Dare to Play!, an initiative by Globe Education in conjunction with Hackney Learning Trust that addresses the tricky transition from primary to secondary school.

Nearly 300 Year 7 students took part in the promenade production around the school site, with most already familiar with the text after working with Globe Education practitioners at the end of their final year at primary school.

Juliet Cooke, head of English at Stoke Newington School, explained how stressful moving school can be, saying: “When students arrive at secondary school it can be very big and overwhelming. They have a lot more teachers, there are separate lessons and on top of that you have to make new friends, meet new people and work out how you fit in.”

Learning Shakespeare at primary school through drama eases students into studying Shakespeare in more depth at secondary school. And as the students adjust to their new surroundings, there are clear parallels with the themes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that can be used to help them.

Ms Cooke continued: “We used the play to focus on how characters are feeling at different times, and in a way you can relate back to settling into secondary school. They’re not being forced to marry by their father or running off into a forest but they might be feeling isolated or unsure of what to do in different situations.”

Georghia Ellinas, Head of Learning at Globe Education, added: “The story moves from the very contained and disciplined world of court to the slightly chaotic magical world of the forest where lots of things happen.

“There’s sort of an analogy there: going from the safe school where you know everybody and you’re top dog to the unknown. So we can explore that notion of change and what that does and how you manage it.”

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