Shakespeare for SEND learners

New resource from SEN Assist and the London Grid for Learning aims to bring Shakespeare to learners with special educational needs and disabilities.

A new resource developed by award-winning SEND specialists SEN Assist and hosted by not-for-profit educational trust London Grid for Learning (LGfL) aims to bring the Bard to pupils with complex learning needs. Complementing LGfL’s already extensive SEND provision Early Shakespeare is suitable for learners on the P scales of all ages and abilities.

Designed by SEN Assist and procured by LGfL for London and TRUSTnet schools, Early Shakespeare is a sophisticated, switch compatible tool designed to develop children’s literacy skills. SEND specialists at SEN Assist have taken two favourite Shakespeare plays, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and transformed them into literary exercises.  

LGfL SEND consultant Jo Dilworth, said of the new resource, “Early Shakespeare is another example of LGfL working with experts in their field to bring top-quality learning resources to children and teachers at all LGfL/TRUSTnet connected schools.

earlyshakespeareUnderpinned by specialist TEACH and PECS principles, developed for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Conditions, the new resource aims to help teachers in three key areas; comprehension, sequencing and character recognition. Designed with multi-sensory elements to ensure pupils stay engaged, four ability levels also allow teachers to include every child and also support extended learning for more able students. Differentiated activities on the sequencing of the play and the characters ensure children are able to demonstrate their understanearlyshakespeare2ding.

In the same format as SEN Assist's Fairytales resource, the two plays are broken down into one bite-sized sentence per scene, using the first 100 high-frequency words. This allows learners to easily follow, understand and remember the stories, and helps ensure access to the curriculum for all. Printouts which include worksheets, masks and a DIY theatre allow teachers to plan carousel activities and importantly encourage a sense of fun!

For pupils, the resource gives the option to watch at their own pace and to turn on or off the accompanying text and symbols. Animated characters bring each scene to life, with differentiated activities to help include all learners. The four ability levels also support even further differentiation.

Fun and engaging elements of the resource include voice recordings performed by real-life Shakespearian actors – so children can experience the characters as Shakespeare intended them to be heard.  earlyshakespeare3

Jo Dilworth added: “SEND pupils can often miss out on the material taught in mainstream education so this new resource represents an exciting opportunity for inclusivity as well as high-quality teaching and learning.”

To access the Early Shakespeare resource please visit and to find out more about LGfL’s range of SEND resources please visit

July 10, 2017

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