The East Street Theatre Company performs Class by Ben Bailey Smith and Lajaune Lincoln for last year’s Connections festival. Photograph: Richard Hubert Smith

The National Theatre, whose lockdown streams of its past productions were watched more than 15 million times, is finally preparing to resume normal activities, and with that has renewed its commitment to keeping young people “at the forefront of its mission”.

As pupils and staff return to classrooms across the country, the theatre has announced that adapted versions of its education and youth programmes will recommence this autumn.

Content will be delivered flexibly throughout 2020 and 2021, with safety measures in place for any physical activity.

First up, the theatre’s annual youth festival, Connections, is to bring together talented creators of the future and some of the UK’s leading contemporary writers to produce and perform 10 new plays, with the aim of staging them at 30 venues across the UK next spring.

Applications are also open for New Views, the yearly playwriting contest for 14- to 19-year-olds, who can write their own plays with support from professional playwrights. A shortlist of these plays will be performed at the National in July 2021.

Bolingbroke Academy Theatre Company’s perform Stuff by Tom Wells for Connections 2019. Photograph: Richard Hubert Smith

The theatre says it has significantly reduced the costs of its primary school toolkit Let’s Play for this academic year. The programme helps teachers create short performances which can then be shared digitally, and is designed to embed creativity into the curriculum.

Lastly, free access, from home, to the National Theatre Collection for UK state school students and teachers has been extended for the next academic year in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing. Students will be able to watch 30 high-quality productions with accompanying educational resources.

Alice King-Farlow, director of learning at the National Theatre said: “As we begin to resume activity, our commitment to creating opportunities for young people to make and participate in theatre remains at the forefront of our mission.

“We want to support schools and young people to return to active theatre-making in a way that’s safe and manageable in a constantly changing context, and we will continue to consult closely with schools and with the theatres we partner with across the country.

“We want to provide access to cultural opportunities and ensure the voices of young people are heard as theatres begin to reopen.

“Our adapted learning programmes offer a space to create and make, to explore contemporary issues and shape debate, and we are excited to discover new ways to collaborate with young people and schools nationwide over the next few months.”

You can apply for youth festival Connections before 3 October here

To apply for the New Views playwriting programme, click here

Primary schools interested in signing up for Let’s Play can find out more here

More information on the National Theatre Collection and how to access it is available here