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Former Bury St Edmunds headteacher Geoff Barton joins Royal Shakespeare Company board





A former Bury St Edmunds headteacher has been appointed to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) board.

Geoff Barton, who was head of King Edward VI School, in Grove Road, for 15 years, recently stepped down as general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), a leading professional body and trade union representing more than 25,000 members across the UK.

He joined RSC chair Shriti Vadera at Skegness Junior Academy on Shakespeare’s Birthday yesterday for a performance of Romeo and Juliet, workshop and Q&A with students, which coincided with his appointment to the RSC board.

Geoff Barton, from near Bury St Edmunds, has been appointed to the board of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Picture: Submitted
Geoff Barton, from near Bury St Edmunds, has been appointed to the board of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Picture: Submitted

Mr Barton, from Pakenham, near Bury, said: “I am delighted to be joining the RSC board. Arts learning has a significant impact on young people’s language development and confidence, and the RSC’s work in this field is pioneering.

“I couldn’t be prouder to join the board as a critical friend and as advocate and ambassador for their amazing work in bringing Shakespeare to more young people and their communities in times where his stories feel ever more urgent and relevant.”

Shriti Vadera, RSC chair, added: “We are delighted to welcome Geoff to the RSC board.

Former Bury St Edmunds headteacher Geoff Barton was general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders for seven years
Former Bury St Edmunds headteacher Geoff Barton was general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders for seven years

“He was inspired by a brilliant English teacher as a child, he was a teacher himself for over three decades and has championed the voice of thousands of school and college leaders over the last seven years as general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

“His knowledge, experience and passion will be a great asset to the RSC’s ground-breaking learning work with young people and teachers.”

Mr Barton has written and edited more than 100 books on literature, grammar and literacy. He is a writer for many publications, and a regular commentator in the media on educational matters.

He is patron of the English & Media Centre, in London, a Founding Fellow of the English Association, and for seven years was a trustee of the National Teaching Awards, celebrating the work of teachers and other staff working in education.

He was recently appointed as chair of the independent Commission on Oracy in Education.

The RSC staged Romeo and Juliet in Skegness, in Lincolnshire, at local schools and the Embassy Theatre to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday.

First Encounters with Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet production photos taken at Sydenham Primary School, Leamington Spa. Picture: Joe Bailey (c) RSC
First Encounters with Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet production photos taken at Sydenham Primary School, Leamington Spa. Picture: Joe Bailey (c) RSC

The performances in Skegness are part of the company’s First Encounters with Shakespeare 12-week tour which visits schools and theatres around England, made possible by Arts Council England funding.

The production is one of the ways the RSC works with young people and teachers as part of its Associate Schools Programme.