Shakespeare ideas for new GCSE specs

Schemes of work, worksheets and comprehensive lesson ideas to teach secondary students three plays in the new GCSE specification: The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest

Nicola Davison


Hand-picked resources to help you explore Shakespeare's plays in detail 

We’ve brought together three of the Bard’s plays that feature on the new GCSE specifications and have selected five of the top resources to support your teaching.

The Merchant of Venice

Although designed for KS3, this complete scheme of work, including lesson plans and worksheets, is a great introduction to the play and its major characters and can be easily adapted to suit the ability of your class. Why not supplement your lessons with these key scene worksheets based around the character of Shylock? 

Support students as they begin to explore plot, character and theme with the inventive practical lesson ideas in this teacher pack and these popular worksheets, including a creative writing response in the form of a newspaper article writing task.

For higher ability pupils, take a closer look at the some of the key language and quotations of the play by reading and dissecting this interesting article as a class.

There's also a support pack from the TES Resources Team that includes act-by-act activity ideas, worksheets and contextual information.

Much Ado About Nothing

The well-presented scheme of work, aimed at low-ability Year 10s, contains 13 engaging lessons which lead to an assessment task comparing Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship in two key scenes.  Alternatively, this thorough unit which also includes lesson plans, activities and an essay is more suited to a higher ability class.

As your students begin to understand the play, challenge them with some more practical activities to help them further make sense of character, imagery and language using this resource pack.  In addition, this adaptable collection of worksheets contains a variety of activities from scene summaries to character mind maps and much more.

What better way to revise important quotations than with this fun bingo game, in which pupils must use the teacher’s clues to identify the correct quote before checking it off their grid.

The Tempest

Useful as a starter, plenary or a centrepiece for a display, this colourful word cloud serves as an engaging introduction to the play.  This detailed scheme of work includes a range of tasks to enhance understanding and engagement of the play and can be easily adapted to suit GCSE classes of all levels. 

While these handy worksheets further develop students’ knowledge of the plot and its main characters, this simple graphic novel version of the play is ideal for supporting lower ability students during its initial reading, or as a revision tool.  These printable conscience cards are an excellent way to get pupils discussing and debating Prospero’s dilemma at the end of Act 3 or 4.

Quick links

The Merchant of Venice Much Ado About Nothing The Tempest
Full scheme of work Low-ability unit Word cloud introduction
Key scene worksheets High-ability unit Unit of work
Practical ideas Practical activities Plot and character worksheets
Cheat’s guide worksheets Scene and character worksheets The Tempest as a graphic novel
Exploring language article Quotations bingo game Prospero’s conscience cards

For more inspiration, visit our Teaching Shakespeare collection.

Let us know about your most-loved Shakespeare resource by dropping us an email.  Don't forget to include a link to the resource!