Programmes for Schools

27 February 2020

Throughout the year, throughout the city and the country, Edinburgh’s major festivals offer an extensive range of programmes for schools. 

Schools c Colin Hattersley

Research of all the festivals' schools programmes, carried out between January 2018 and May 2019, found Edinburgh’s festivals reached 92% of schools across the city. Festivals engaged with every secondary school in Edinburgh, and almost all the city’s primary and special schools.

There were over 58,000 pupil engagements throughout that period– the number of times pupils were involved in festival activities - with many benefiting from multiple opportunities. The full version of the research report can be downloaded HERE.

Festivals' school programmes... 

  • Are offered throughout the year not just at peak festival times. 
  • Cover all ages and stages, from early years to primary and secondary.
  • Involve schools the length and breadth of the country, not just Edinburgh.  
  • Happen directly in the classroom as well as theatres, cinemas, gardens, parks, concert halls, libraries, museums, and galleries. 
  • Often have travel subsidy schemes to help with the cost of transport. 
  • Inspire creativity in pupils – curiosity, imagination, problem-solving, open-mindedness and communication.

Imaginate Festivalgoers 10

What kind of opportunities are there? 

From 2019 the festivals have benefited through the Platforms for Creative Excellence (PlaCE) Programme, funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland. The PlaCE programme is enabling the festivals to expand and innovate in their community engagement, including new programming for schools.

Livescore Isle of Coll

Here is just a snapshot of the festivals' school programmes:

  • Edinburgh Science Festival Every year, Generation Science offers a programme of interactive shows and hands-on workshops for primary schools, delivered in the classroom. The Careers Hive is an interactive showcase for careers in science and technology, targeted at secondary school pupils and designed to highlight opportunities from studying STEM subjects. 
  • Imaginate/Edinburgh International Children’s Festival Imaginate produces the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival in addition to a year-round programme for schools including artists’ residencies, CLPL and special projects.  They partner with the National theatre of Scotland to deliver the Theatre in Schools Scotland programme which brings high quality theatre and dance to schools across Scotland.  New for 2019 is Immerse, a 3-year intensive project working with targeted schools in Edinburgh and Teachers' Theatre Club in partnership with the Fringe.
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival As part of the festival, there are special screenings for schools, media days offering an insight into the film industry, a Youth HQ offering activities tailored for young people and the Edinburgh & Lothians Schools Film Competition. The Understanding Cinema programme sees film professionals working with schools through the year, with screenings of the films at the festival.  
  • Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival The festival works with local schools on projects connected to its base in the St Bride’s Community Centre. In 2019 the festival worked with P1-P4 classes at Dalry Primary and 14 artists from around the world, as part of its Carnival programme.
  • Edinburgh Art Festival Leading up to the main event, the festival works on long-term projects with targeted schools, providing opportunities for pupils to engage creatively with the programme. Projects involve working with creative professionals to create new work, responding to the themes and artists of the festival programme. 
  • Edinburgh International Festival The annual schools programme has a wide range of opportunities, including the Virgin Money Schools Concert, activities and workshops linked to festival events, the Young Musicians Passport offering free entry to performances, the Herald Young Critics critical writing project, and the Art of Listening classical music project.
  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society The Fringe are developing a new learning programme to enable schools to engage with the festival, and offer a downloadable resource to help teachers plan a trip, get in touch with performers and make curricular links to get the most out of a visit. The Fringe works on Teachers' Theatre Club in partnership with Edinburgh International Children's Festival too.
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival The Baillie Gifford Schools Programme offers an extensive range of activities alongside the main events in Charlotte Square Gardens, with online learning resources and CLPL sessions for teachers. The Baillie Gifford Gala Day, the final day of the festival, is devoted entirely to primary schools.  
  • Scottish International Storytelling Festival The festival engages with schools through its community programme which runs alongside the main festival events. Teachers can book a storyteller to come along to their school and there are online resources to help them join in with the nationwide story exchange day.

Get in touch with us on if your school is looking for help connecting to the Festivals’ opportunities.

Photo Credits: [Top] Colin Hattersley. Theatre in Schools Scotland - a partnership between Imaginate and National Theatre of Scotland; [Middle] Colin Hattersley. Children attending the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival; [End] Jassy Earl. Imaginate’s Livescore project.

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