Does it really matter which pantomime you choose to put on with the children?


Informal research over the past few years has suggested that most schools that put on a pantomime choose the story they wish to produce on the basis of personal favourites and a certain amount of  rotation so that the same panto is not offered two years running.

However, where the aim of the event is not just to put on a performance but also to provide a learning experience which offers the children specific insights, some pantomimes are more appropriate than others.

If we are going down this route, one of the most obvious places to start is with Dick Whittington which as a story has the benefit of being based on a real person (although not necessarily a real cat).

Thus we have a historical plot and the possibility of examining everything that is inherent within the panto. The tradition, the staging, the scenery, the props, the lighting, the use of the provided music against new songs, or new lyrics, dance, movement, acting… all can then become topics for study.

Of course, each topic is an option – it is possible to present Dick Whittington as a pantomime with the normal rehearsals and production to the parents and no further explanation. Or you can take one or more of the issues inherent within the panto and look more deeply at that.

This is the background to our decision to produce a pack based around Dick Whittington, but now re-written as Dick Ottington and his famous cat Tommy, by David Stoll and Michael Hinton.

The package includes:

  • a Director’s Script, with detailed page-by-page production notes
  • a Pupils’ Script
  • a Vocal Score containing thirteen new songs with piano accompaniment, as well as an overture and incidental music
  • a complete set of high-quality fully orchestrated backing tracks and sound effects.

The Director’s Script also has an extensive introduction to pantomime itself as a topic for study, including the traditions and conventions of this type of theatre.

There are also helpful notes on all aspects of putting on a school production from casting, organising rehearsals, writing new lyrics, making props and sound effects through to involving the audience. The material, therefore, can be used for a term’s study as well as forming the basis of the end of term production.

David Stoll is a well-known composer and songwriter who has also worked extensively with primary school teachers and pupils on creative projects.  His SEALSONGS are favourite assembly material, and his book on how to teach composing at KS2 is acknowledged for its helpful notes and suggestions. To go to his website please click here.

Michael Hinton is a teacher, writer and musician with many years’ experience of writing educational materials for schools abroad and in the UK. He works as Music Director with amateur dramatic societies and children’s theatre groups, helping them to stage musicals and pantomimes, and is the composer of hundreds of educational songs.

There are sample pages at Ottington samples.rar

Dick Ottington and his famous cat Tommy is published as a download so that you can receive immediately a copy onto your computer which you can share with colleagues as often as you want.  You can also put it on your school learning platform so all staff can access it.

You can obtain Dick Ottington and his famous cat Tommy by going to

The price for the full package is £24.95 plus VAT (the VAT can be reclaimed in most cases by the school).

Dick Ottington and his famous cat Tommy is published by Novello & Co Ltd and distributed by First and Best, part of the Hamilton House group.  If you have any enquiries you can call 01536 399 011 or email or write to us at First and Best, Hamilton House, Earlstrees Ct, Earlstrees Rd, Corby, Northants NN17 4HH.

The full range of First and Best books can be seen at


So, how do you engage students in discussion, especially those lacking in confidence? Well, as you know, you can:

  • Choose a topic they care about.
  • Provide an engaging film
  • Invite a visiting speaker
  • Provide activities which encourage small group discussion for those who don’t like to talk in front of the whole class.

We have free resources on animal welfare & sustainability in farming to help with all of these. You can order a DVD-ROM or invite a speaker by replying to this email. You can also download films and worksheets on our website.

Children of all ages care about animals. The way our food is produced is a growing topic of debate whether you are talking about the ethics around how we treat animals, the production of healthy food, how we can feed a growing population or provide rural jobs.

We have a range of regularly updated resources including:

  • The Farm Animals & Us films which compare intensive methods of producing meat, milk and eggs with alternative methods of production
  • The Personality Test – an engaging quiz which helps students examine their attitudes to  the use of animals to food from the point of view of four different philosophies
  • How Should We Treat Farm Animals? – a card activity designed to promote small group discussion

If you would like to order a free copy of our Farm Animals & Us DVDROM, with all the resources mentioned, or to invite a local speaker, please email

If you would like to download these materials directly, including the films, or just to find out more, please go straight to our website.

Yours faithfully

Phil Brooke
Education Development Manager
Compassion in World Farming

Links and contacts:


Tel: 01483 521 965

Education website:

Speaker service:


Quotes from teachers of English:

 “This would be most useful to stimulate debate in Spoken English.  It would also be valuable as a starting point for project work in written English, particularly if accompanied by a photocopiable Teachers’ Pack.
In my experience, children are more interested in discussing animal welfare than any other topic.”

 “A well presented and inspirational resource.
Excellent material for KS3 speaking and listening assignments
My classes thoroughly enjoyed the video. It stimulated discussion and was superb material for a discursive essay
A flexible resource which can be used for both speaking and listening and writing.  The support material was very helpful as well. It can be used for a variety of lessons.
I’m looking forward to incorporating the video and worksheets in the next term’s scheme of work. It is presented in a stimulating yet educational way. It is ideal material for oral and written work”.

“Video:  Excellent – led to some extremely interesting discussions about how farm animals are often treated. Pupils compared this with how we treat pets. … Invaluable as a resource – very few of our pupils had any concept of the video content …
Pack:  Excellent – most can be adapted for use with KS3/4 pupils of all abilities.”

“Many thanks for dispatching the literature and DVD. I’m just planning lessons and want you to know how impressed I am with both the content, the presentation and the appropriateness to young people. You have our support – just teaching the noun COMPASSION has been valuable.

Last quote from teacher at Pupil Referral Unit

Perfect the Past Tense for GCSE French

Perfect the Past Tense for GCSE French is a resource which will give your students structured practice in a complex grammatical area which is vital to their success at GCSE.

It comprises a pack of photocopiable worksheets which will guide them step by step through the rules and uses of the perfect tense and help them to gain a ‘C’ or above at GCSE level. Explanations are clearly illustrated with plenty of examples to work through, and answers are included at the back of the book. Most of the exercises are designed to be worked through on an individual basis but there are also a couple of games which can be played in small groups.

Perfect the Past Tense has been designed and written by French teachers and tested in class where it proved to be immensely beneficial.

Sample pages can be viewed at

ISBN: 978 1 86083 730 2; Order code: T1675emn

The volume is available as…

  • Photocopiable report in a ring binder, £19.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £19.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the Ring Binder and the CD £26.94 plus £3.95 delivery

Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the book or CD…

Free animation: How is an emulsion made?

Teach your students how an emulsion is made using our free animation!

The animation breaks the emulsification of oil and water down into four clear stages, demonstrating how an emulsion can be formed from two immiscible liquids. Clear, engaging, and complete with a real-world discussion question, this animation is perfect for getting your students to grips with emulsions.

Try the activity on our Science free stuff page!


The Boardworks team

English Literature Summer School 2016

A wonderful opportunity for students with a passion for literature to discover a range of new authors and texts, explore fresh approaches to familiar works and to prepare for undergraduate study of English Literature.

“Before attending the English Literature Summer School, I was not sure if I wanted to study this subject at higher level, but participating in such an academically driven environment, surrounded and taught by specialists who are so enthusiastic about their subject, has convinced me without doubt that I would love to pursue English Literature at university. If you have any reservations about whether this course would be useful – don’t hesitate! I had one of the best weeks of my summer, meeting so many interesting people, whilst learning about areas of literature I had never encountered before!”

English Literature Summer School Student 2015

Summer School Schedule 2016

The English Summer School – Part 1 will cover literature dating from 650AD to 1790AD, including Middle English, Medieval Literature, Chaucer, The Renaissance, Shakespeare, Restoration Literature and the Rise of the Novel. In addition we will also be covering Historicist and Feminist critical approaches as part of this Summer School. Taking place 25th-29th July.

The English Summer School – Part 2 will cover literature dating from 1790AD to the present day, including Romanticism and the Gothic Movement, Victorian Sensation Novels, Literature and the British Empire, Modernism, Postmodernism and Contemporary Literature. We will be covering the ‘Death of the Author’ and Postcolonial criticism as part of this Summer School. Taking place 1st-5th August.

The English Summer School – Part 3 is new for summer 2016, and will cover Contemporary English Literature, including prose fiction, poetry and drama. We will be covering Psychoanalytic criticism and ‘Theories of the Canon’ as part of this Summer School. Taking place 22nd-26th August.

Please note that students can attend all Parts of the Summer School, or just one or two, depending on their literary interests. Although the courses complement one another, they can also be treated as stand alone events and there is no requirement to have attended Part 1 in order to register for other Parts.

Thematic coverage by period, combining close study of texts with lectures on historical and cultural context, and setting major authors side-by-side with less familiar works, will help students to appreciate the development of prose, verse and drama in English from the middle ages to the present day. We will not only engage in close textual analysis of Medieval, Renaissance, Romantic, Nineteenth Century, Modernist and Contemporary writers, but also evaluate these movements in light of the authors’ own critical writing.

As well as looking at the purely written word, we will also cover literature in performance, comparing play scripts to film adaptations and reading through sections of the works using different performance theories. As an integral part of Part 1 of the Summer School we will attend a performance of Macbeth at the Globe Theatre on the Southbank. Literary theory and criticism will play an important role in the Summer School and students will be invited to examine texts they have studied in the light of competing theories of the nature and value of literature and the role of the critic.

This Summer School is suitable for all students aged 15-18 with a passion for literature, and will be particularly useful for those looking for a taste of undergraduate level engagement with texts and theory.

Practical Details:

The cost of booking any single Part of the English Literature Summer School £465, the cost of any two Parts is £850, and the cost for all three Parts of the Summer School is £1200. The Summer School will be held at a University of London venue in Bloomsbury (please note that these courses are not residential, and accommodation must be arranged independently if required).

There will be a limited number of bursary spaces available for those who would otherwise have financial difficulty in attending – please see our website for details.

To book a place please visit call us on 0845 519 4827, or email  Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.