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The National Theatre is expanding its Speak Up programme to work with some 140,000 young people from 55 secondary schools across the next three years.

The programme sees school pupils working with local artists and teachers to co-create artistic responses to issues that are important to them, with the aim of developing young people’s self-expression, wellbeing and personal skills.

The expansion follows a successful pilot phase that began last Autumn and is made possible after a £3.3m grant from the Mohn Westlake Foundation to deliver the project in areas of low arts engagement.

The National Theatre’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris says Speak Up is a crucial part of the theatres work in levelling up, “giving agency to young people nationwide whose voices often go unheard”.

“This innovative model will empower young people to share their views on current issues and put them at the heart of the creative process,” he added.