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Bradford
Monday, June 27, 2022

ESOL students from Bradford College celebrate Shakespeare at 10 Downing Street

The students, along with their tutor, were invited along following their achievements while using Shakespeare’s works in their studies.

An extraordinary year for three students has been topped with a visit to Downing Street to celebrate the role of Shakespeare and the arts in supporting their achievements.

Hareth Alshaban, Hajra Bibi and Ramin Malai, who have studied English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Bradford College, attended a Royal Shakespeare Company showcase of the work the company does with young people. Joining them was ESOL teacher Esther Wilkey.

The two current students and one alum took part in a workshop before going to a reception at 10 Downing Street.

The three took part in an RSC workshop at Number 10, before going into a reception with MPs and guests including the Chair of London’s iconic Globe Theatre and the National Theatre. Robin Walker, Minister for School Standards, introduced the event.

They then went next door to Number 9, where they watched a medley of performances with renowned RSC actors and students involved in the RSC Next Generation programme.

The invitation came about as Bradford College and the RSC have worked in partnership for many years to provide unique learning experiences for students.

Ramin is currently studying in Esther’s Entry 3 ESOL class while Hareth and Hajra are both former ESOL students at the college.

Hareth came to Bradford through a UN resettlement programme in 2018. While studying on the ESOL course, he took part in Shakespeare Club, in which ESOL students engage in highly immersive RSC pedagogy that accelerates spoken and written language skills using Shakespeare’s plays.

The sessions connect techniques used by Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors in their rehearsals to the ways in which teachers can work with learners in the classroom.

Hareth was one of two students who went on to become members of the RSC Youth Advisory Board. He even played Romeo in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet. This was part of his work towards an Arts Award, part of the Start programme run by the Alhambra Theatre.

He is now studying Politics at Liverpool Hope University, which made the visit even more exciting for him. It gave him the chance to discuss the role of the arts with politicians including Mr Walker. Hareth said: “It was amazing my first trip to London happened because of an invitation to the Prime Minister’s house!”

Hajra Bibi is another student who has achieved a great deal at Bradford College. She wrote a monologue that addresses the issue of child sexual abuse. She directed the monologue recording and used it to give voice to other ESOL students.

They then wrote, performed and recorded their own monologues. They did this after participating in a series of lessons that she taught. This helped them to improve their own speaking and listening skills, building their confidence to discuss important issues in a second language.

Hajra has achieved the Gold Arts Award, where Bradford College worked in partnership with the Alhambra Theatre in a programme of cultural activity. The award gave her extra UCAS points and assured her place at the University of Bradford.

Ramin Malia is one of the students who recently took part in the RSC’s Next Generation Backstage residential programme in Stratford-Upon-Avon. He created props for a scene from Much Ado About Nothing. He said that these experiences have opened his mind to the many exciting opportunities that are available in this country.

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