STUDENTS in Gloucestershire will have the chance to perform Shakespeare on professional stages thanks to an £8,000 grant from Faiford-based education charity the Ernest Cook Trust.

The donation is to the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a national arts education project that works with schools to put together abridged versions of the Bard’s plays, ending in performances at local theatres.

Teachers will work with professional arts practitioners to learn how to direct the plays, and students aged eight to 18 will take part in cast workshops to develop their acting, and build confidence and teamwork skills.

The grant will directly support 30 Gloucestershire schools to take part in the programme, starting this summer.

“Shakespeare is an integral part of British cultural heritage and since 2000, Shakespeare Schools Festival has given over 150,000 young people the chance to celebrate his words as their own,” said a project spokesman.

“Donations like this help us keep our commitment to providing the highest quality arts education experience to all children, regardless of ability or background.”

The Ernest Cook Trust, based in Fairford, is a national educational charity, and is rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside. It owns and manages 22,000 acres of landed estates across five counties in England.

ECT actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through hands-on educational opportunities on its estates and by giving grants. Each year its Trustees distribute £1.8m in educational grants.