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Pupils’ perform at Hackney Empire as part of Families First

A group of 10 and 11 year-olds put their creative talents to the fore by giving a modern twist to three classic fairy stories to produce ‘The Weird and Wonderful Tales of Hackney’ as part of Hackney Village presented at the Hackney Empire. The performance was inspired by the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, Edgar Allen Poe and Hans Christian Anderson, amongst others, and set on Mare Street in Hackney.

The young people worked with the Hackney Empire to develop and refine their stories which they performed to families and friends on Friday 2 August. The week-long workshops were organised by Inspire! under the ‘Families First’ programme, and delivered by facilitators and practitioners who specialised in inclusion – as part of a programme designed to be accessible to all, and led by Yamin Choudury, Renell Shaw and Kat B.

Inspire!’s role in Families First has been to help 25 young people make a smooth transition from primary to secondary school. Mentors from BSix and Clapton Girls’ Academy spent the last two terms meeting the pupils on a weekly basis. Their half-hour sessions have familiarised the pupils with what their lessons and workload will be like, other ways in which secondary school differs from what they are used to and, as importantly, it has given them an opportunity to discuss any concerns they might have about making the move.

“Having a mentor has pushed me and given me more confidence,” said Paige Leonard, who will go to Mossbourne Academy in September.

“We played games and did maths and literacy – and we talked a lot about going to secondary school,” said Shakira Matata who is heading to Clapton Girls’ Academy. Her mentor, Tahklima Sultana also attends Clapton Girls’ Academy and was present at the theatre workshops. She said: “I agreed to be a mentor because I like children and I thought it would be good for me to be a leader and a role model.”

Thoughts about their new schools were put to one side as the young performers focused on learning their lines for their theatre debut. “We’ve chosen Cinderella,” explained Paige, “but the Prince is called Cindo and Cinderella is called Lisiana. And it’s the Prince who leaves the ball and he loses the £5 note on which he has written Lisiana’s number.”

The students’ progress will be monitored next term and a new intake of Year 6 pupils will join the Families First scheme.

Hannah Groves, Senior Programme Manager (Primary) at Inspire! said:” Our Families First programme has given the children a mix of mentoring sessions and fun workshops, such as circus skills, an enterprise day and this week’s drama course. The pupils attended five different primary schools, so the group activities have brought them together and enabled them to make new friends, some of whom will be going to their secondary schools. We hope they now have the confidence to go on and do well at their new schools and we look forward to working with a further group in the autumn.”

Hackney Empire was delighted to be able to partner with Inspire! on this project. The young participants bonded brilliantly, creating a great show which they performed so well. More importantly they worked together and performed with pride, showing just what an important role creative learning can play in building confidence and teaching life skills for any child’s future choices and pathways. I’d like to thank Inspire! for partnering with us and also to Connecting Young Hackney for their continued support,” said Susie McKenna, Creative Director of Hackney Empire