Children as young as five will be given lessons in Shakespeare in an attempt to increase study of the Bard in schools.
DVDs of animated adaptions of his plays will be offered to primary schools throughout the country as part of a new Government initiative.
In addition teachers will receive a support package including a guidance booklet with practical teaching advice called Shakespeare For All Ages And Stages.
The initiative has been put together in collaboration with experts from the Globe Theatre in London, The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).
There will also be a continuation of the “Making Good Progress” (MGA) scheme, which has been allocated £1.5 million, allowing more 11 to 14-year-old pupils at National Curriculum Key Stage 3 level to see a live Shakespeare performance.
Many have already benefited from the scheme, attending RSC performances of productions including The Taming Of The Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Schools Minister Jim Knight said every child should be given the opportunity to enjoy Shakespeare’s work from a young age.
He said: “Shakespeare is the most famous playwright of all time. One of our great Britons, his work is studied all over the world.
“It is fitting then that his work is a protected part of the curriculum in the country he came from. But I want to go further to ensure that Shakespeare can be enjoyed as much as possible and from a younger age.”
Jacqui O’Hanlon, acting director of education at the RSC, said the latest scheme represented an extension of practices that were already in existence in many schools.
“This endorses the inspirational practice that is already happening in many primary and secondary schools across the country,” she said.
“In our manifesto for Shakespeare in schools - Stand Up For Shakespeare - we call for young people to do Shakespeare on their feet, see it live and start it earlier. These principles are very clearly in evidence in Shakespeare For All Ages And Stages.”
Mick Waters, director of curriculum at the QCA, added: “Teachers can make young people’s experience of Shakespeare an inspiring one and nurture a lifelong interest in the playwright. But getting to grips with Shakespeare’s verse is a challenge for teachers and young people alike.
“Shakespeare For All Ages And Stages will help by suggesting a range of innovative and practical ideas to help bring Shakespeare to life in the classroom.” The move was praised by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent charity based in Stratford upon Avon which promotes appreciation and study of the plays and other works of the Bard. It also aims to preserve the Shakespeare Birthplace properties. The Bard was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and died in 1616.
Dr Paul Edmondson, the charity’s head of learning, welcomed the latest proposals and said the objective was to ensure people of all ages had access to Shakespeare’s works.
He said: “Shakespeare is a master story-teller and no one is ever too young to appreciate a good story told well. At The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust we aim to offer a range of family activities to inspire people of all ages.”