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Students celebrate Shakespeare at Downing Street

An extraordinary year for three students has been topped with a VIP visit to 10 Downing Street.

Hareth Alshaban, Hajra Bibi and Ramin Malai, who have studied English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Bradford College, attended a Royal Shakespeare Company showcase of the work the company does with young people. Joining them was ESOL teacher Esther Wilkey.

The three took part in an RSC workshop at Number 10, before going into a reception with MPs and guests including the Chair of London’s iconic Globe Theatre and the National Theatre. Robin Walker, Minister for School Standards, introduced the event. They then went next door to Number 9, where they watched a medley of performances with renowned RSC actors and students involved in the RSC Next Generation programme.

Esther said: “It was just amazing.”

Hajra, Esther, Hareth and Ramin by the door of 10 Downing Street
Hajra, Esther, Hareth and Ramin

A long-standing partnership

The invitation came about as Bradford College and the RSC have worked in partnership for many years to provide unique learning experiences for students. Ramin is currently studying in Esther’s Entry 3 ESOL class while Hareth and Hajra are both former ESOL students at the college. Hareth came to Bradford through a UN resettlement programme in 2018. While studying on the ESOL course, he took part in Shakespeare Club, in which ESOL students engage in highly immersive RSC pedagogy that accelerates spoken and written language skills using Shakespeare’s plays. The sessions connect techniques used by Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors in their rehearsals to the ways in which teachers can work with learners in the classroom.

An incredible first visit to London

Hareth was one of two students who went on to become members of the RSC Youth Advisory Board. He even played Romeo in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet. This was part of his work towards an Arts Award, part of the Start programme run by the Alhambra Theatre.

He is now studying Politics at Liverpool Hope University, which made the visit even more exciting for him. It gave him the chance to discuss the role of the arts with politicians including Mr Walker. Hareth said: “It was amazing my first trip to London happened because of an invitation to the Prime Minister’s house!”

Hajra Bibi is another student who has achieved a great deal at Bradford College. She wrote a monologue that addresses the issue of child sexual abuse. She directed the monologue recording and used it to give voice to other ESOL students. They then wrote, performed and recorded their own monologues. They did this after participating in a series of lessons that she taught. This helped them to improve their own speaking and listening skills, building their confidence to discuss important issues in a second language.

Going for gold

Hajra has achieved Gold Arts Award, where Bradford College worked in partnership with the Alhambra Theatre in a programme of cultural activity. The award gave her extra UCAS points and assured her place at the University of Bradford.

Ramin Malia is one of the students who recently took part in the RSC’s Next Generation Backstage residential programme in Stratford-Upon-Avon. He created props for a scene from Much Ado About Nothing. He said that these experiences have opened his mind to the many exciting opportunities that are available in this country.

Esther said: “The students did us proud.”

ESOL at Bradford College

If you are aged 16-18, have moved to the UK from another country and would like to continue your education in Britain, ESOL 16-18 is the perfect course for you.

This is a full-time, comprehensive, language-based programme. It is designed to help with the transition between studying in your home language and studying in Britain. Alongside English, which is taught from Beginner level to Advanced level (Level 1), you will be able to study Mathematics (Functional Skills, GCSE or A level), IT and a variety of additional subjects, all of which have English specialist support. This course is for speakers of languages other than English aged 16-18. You may join this course with any level of English from Beginner to Advanced Level 1. You will also be given an English Language assessment to establish your level. Find out more at

We also offer part-time courses for ESOL students aged 19+. This course offers a dynamic and professional approach to language learning: speaking and listening, reading and writing.

Come and improve your English in a supportive and engaging environment, using the latest technology. Our highly qualified teachers will enable you to achieve a qualification in ESOL Skills for Life at an appropriate level. You will also have the opportunity to progress to either our vocational or academic courses in the future.

Your ESOL course will be five to six hours a week, depending on which skills you are developing.


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