Photo Credit Tony Baker

Theatre in Education

Big School 2016

During the Summer term 2016, over 1,500 pupils from 30 Coventry and Warwickshire primary schools will be given the opportunity to participate in Big School. Big School has been running since 1998 and is the Belgrade’s annual Theatre in Education (TiE) production which explores the issue of transition from Primary to Secondary school.

This participatory production will help Year 6 pupils to consider the challenges they may face when moving from being the oldest year group in a school, to being the youngest in a large, unfamiliar space, with new teachers, new friends, new subjects and a daunting new building to navigate. It will support them to address their fears and manage this significant change in their lives.

Justine Themen, Belgrade Theatre Associate Director on Big School:

‘Work on transition is often about telling children what they need to expect when they make the step up to secondary school. Projects such as Big School are about giving young people the opportunity to explore the challenges that they many encounter and come up with their own ideas as to how to meet those challenges. Grown-ups can sometimes forget that children are dealing with change all the time and are often very resourceful. We need to support children to access the resourcefulness within themselves at this important time in their lives. The Big School project is an integral part of our Community & Education programme and we are very proud to have helped many thousands of local young children with the difficult transition. In an age where government education funds are being given directly to individual schools and taking into account the increased marginalization of drama within the national curriculum, the future of Big School is by no means a certain one. Because of the way in which the allocation of funding to schools has changed, supporting a dedicated TiE project of this scale is becoming increasingly difficult. The transition from primary to secondary school can be a tremendously challenging time in the life of a child and if it doesn’t go well, can have a lasting impact of a child’s achievement and well-being’.

Big School 2016 is directed by Justine Themen with support from Claire Procter (Co-director). This year’s programme of interactive drama sessions will be delivered by actor-teachers Leon Phillips and Kim Hackleman.

If you would like further information on the Big School Project or wish to book the current tour, please contact Charles Ingram the Community & Education Administrator on 02476 846 737 or

Theatre In Education History

The ground-breaking Theatre in Education (TiE) movement was first pioneered by the Belgrade in 1965 as a way to use theatre and drama to create a range of learning opportunities for young people. Actor-teachers from the Belgrade’s permanent TiE Company would tour local schools where they would perform short pieces of theatre and lead workshops that allowed students to explore important issues and ideas in active and creative ways.

The TiE movement soon spread to theatres across the UK, and then to broader contexts across the globe, inspiring a wide range of participatory theatre with children and young people, encouraging and empowering children to investigate challenging situations for themselves.

In 2015, the Belgrade Theatre celebrated the 50th Anniversary of establishing its dedicated TiE Company with a year-long festival of events entitled Inspiring Curiosity. See below for more information.

INSPIRING CURIOSITY Celebrating 50 years of Theatre in Education

2015 saw the 50th Anniversary of Theatre in Education (TiE) at the Belgrade, marking 50 years since the establishment of a company dedicated to using theatrical performance and drama workshops to explore issues of cultural, social, political and moral significance as part of a free service to schools and the young people of Coventry. TiE encourages children to investigate challenging situations for themselves, to search to find the answer, rather than be given it on a plate.

To mark this significant anniversary, the Belgrade held a year of events to celebrate and promote theatre made for and with young people. Events included a two-week festival of theatre by and for young people in July, a two-day international conference exploring the relationship between theatre and learning, and a two-week festival of theatre for children and families in October.

For further information on our Inspiring Curiosity events, please visit where you will find lots of details about the exciting events and activities that were produced during this spectacular Anniversary year.