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Preparing for the move to Big School

Big School - Room to Grow combines live theatre and participatory activities to explore children's feelings about the move to secondary school and equip them with useful strategies for dealing with issues of transition.

Originally devised in the late 1990s by the Belgrade's Theatre-in-Education team, Big School is this year touring more than 20 schools, aiming to engage more than 1500 Year 6 pupils. The project began earlier this month, but over the next two weeks will be visiting a number of primary schools in the city, including Grangehurst, Wyken Croft, John Gulson and Hearsall Academy.

Performers Leon Phillips and Kim Hackleman will be telling the story of best friends Mo and Ash. With Mo about to make the move to big school, the pair play out their fears surrounding making new friends, facing bullies and navigating the corridors of secondary school, in the safety of their secret den.

Their friendship is tested as they also deal with changes to their family lives, with Mo's father working abroad and Ash worried about the arrival of a new baby.

Belgrade Education Officer Claire Proctor said, "Theatre in Education is a powerful and collaborative tool for learning that engages pupils in meaningful interactions through drama, which are designed to give voice to their feelings and experiences".

The Belgrade pioneered Theatre in Education during the mid-1960s. The movement has since spread to other theatres in the UK and then across the world, inspiring a wide range of participatory drama with children and young people.

Picture by Nicola Young

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