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Let's tackle Macbeth

"When the hurly burly's done, when the battle's lost and won." Three witches, decked out in Woolworths' finest plastic pointy black hats, and backed by the rest of their Year 6 class, are chanting rhythmically, threateningly, at the Thane of Cawdor. Later in the lesson, Lady Macbeth, clearly identified by a sign hung around her neck, pursues her husband round the room, hectoring him, in her own 11-year-old words, to pull his socks up and commit murder most foul.

Their teacher, Toni Davis, asks each child for one word to describe Macbeth: noble, brave, mad, confused, are a few. Easily-led is another description; a person of contradictions, as we all are.

Drama, speaking in public, brainstorming are all part of Brentside primary's way of building children's self-sufficiency and self-esteem.

Year 5 pupils were at ease showing PowerPoint presentations on the Victorians to a visitor. Slimane's was about children. "Most of the factories did not think anything was wrong giving dangerous jobs to children," she says, clicking on to the next image.

Year 4 was rewriting Little Red Riding Hood with a new spin; for infants.

It was circle time: funny faces being passed, Chinese whispers style, round the room.

It's important for children to be able to express their feelings, says Melody Moran, head of the 270-pupil school. "Children are familiar with talking about strategies for improving relationships.

"In circle time we give children, twice weekly opportunities, to talk, listen and reflect upon the issues in and outside of the school that concern them."

Diane Hofkins

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