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Pupils from Harlesden school first to win "Shakespeare" trophy

PUBLISHED: 18:02 24 September 2015 | UPDATED: 12:03 25 September 2015

Ayub Abdalla and Aisha Bahdoon from Harlesden Primary School hold aloft the winning trophy for all the exceptional work done around the Primary Shakespeare Company's annual festival  Pic credit: Sally Mais

Ayub Abdalla and Aisha Bahdoon from Harlesden Primary School hold aloft the winning trophy for all the exceptional work done around the Primary Shakespeare Company's annual festival Pic credit: Sally Mais

Archant

A primary school in Harlesden made a trip to the House of Lords after beating 30 competitors to a Shakespeare prize with its "breathtaking" body of work.

Ayub Abdalla and Aisha Bahdoon with (L-R) Neil Carter, Lottie, Hannah Woolf, Hon Estelle Morris  Pic credit: Sally MaisAyub Abdalla and Aisha Bahdoon with (L-R) Neil Carter, Lottie, Hannah Woolf, Hon Estelle Morris Pic credit: Sally Mais

Harlesden Primary School, in Acton Lane, won the Annie Williams Prize for its work around a performance of Hamlet, run by the Primary Shakespeare Company (PSC).

Year 6 pupils Ayub Abdalla and Aisha Bahdoon were awarded the trophy by Baroness Estelle Morris of Yardley at the House of Lords in Westminster last Thursday.

Baroness Morris said: “Children from no matter what background can now get access to Shakespeare. You should be very proud of yourselves and I know that’s also down to the teachers’ wonderful work.”

Ayub, 10, said: “I’m really excited and amazed that my school won. I feel really proud to have the chance to come here.”

Harlesden Primary School beat 30 others to win the Annie Williams prize for incorporating Hamlet into their curriculumHarlesden Primary School beat 30 others to win the Annie Williams prize for incorporating Hamlet into their curriculum

Aisha, also 10, added: “I feel very exhilarated we won. It’s the first time in my life to go to the House of Lords and the first time to see Big Ben. It’s incredible.”

Hannah Widdison, an assistant headteacher who worked on the project with the pupils said: “I wasn’t sure whether the play would work across the curriculum but it was an incredible project that really gripped the children. This is a school in a really deprived area so the award is so nice. The teachers work so hard and it’s great to be recognised.”

Pupils from six primary schools in the borough closed the two-week PSC Festival in June, which involved 30 schools across five boroughs performing scenes from Hamlet.

Harlesden pupils used Hamlet in all their lessons, including maths with a graph showing the number of deaths in the play, in science, to find out how long Orphelia’s necklace took to rust after she drowned, and in PE with a game of Blind Man’s Bluff.

Harlesden Primary School beat 30 others to win the Annie Williams prize for incorporating Hamlet into their curriculumHarlesden Primary School beat 30 others to win the Annie Williams prize for incorporating Hamlet into their curriculum

It is the first year that the annual Annie Williams prize has been offered to all primary schools involved in the festival.

Mrs Williams, who died in 2012, was a headteacher at Holy Trinity and St Silas Primary School in Camden and who believed the arts, in particular drama, should be at the centre of the curriculum.

The prize provides a theatre practitioner to work with the entire school for half a term as well as a trip to the theatre.

Harlesden pupils will go to see Bend it Like Beckham and use the skills they have learnt for a World War 2 topic.

Luke Williams, founder and artistic director of PSC, who worked with Mrs Williams, said: “Harlesden primary school absolutely got what this project was about.”

Neil Carter, co-founder and programme director of the PSC said: “Harlesden sent a body of work that was breathtaking. There wasn’t a lesson in those six weeks that wasn’t based on Hamlet.”

The PSC, now in its seventh year received charitable status last year. It is funded by the John Lyon’s trust.

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