More than 90 per cent of Edinburgh's schools are now involved with the city's festivals, research reveals

More than 90 per cent of Edinburgh’s schools are now involved with the city’s festivals in some way, new research has revealed.

Sunday, 23rd February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Sunday, 23rd February 2020, 11:42 pm
A mini-maker fayre at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Picture: Chris Scott
A mini-maker fayre at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Picture: Chris Scott

The first in-depth study of its kind found that pupils took part in special events in theatres, concert halls, museums, galleries, parks, gardens and in the classroom 58,000 times in the space of 18 months.

The “mapping” project, carried out by umbrella organisations Festivals Edinburgh, found that the work from the festivals with schools is reaching many parts of the city that would otherwise have no participation in events.

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The study suggests that the council wards which have recorded the lowest attendance at the city’s major events have also seen the highest levels of pupil participation. Its findings are expected to help the festivals develop and target more year-round activities and projects.

The study found that 92 per cent of the city's schools were involved in the Edinburgh festivals in some way over an 18-month period. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Two thirds of Edinburgh’s population are said to attend at least one festival event each year, but this drops significantly in some of its most deprived areas, such as Wester Hailes, Muirhouse, West Pilton and Granton.

However among the schools most heavily involved with the festivals were Craigroyston Primary and Craigroyston Community High, in Muirhouse, Forthview Primary, in West Pilton, and Canal View Primary, in Wester Hailes.

The report states: “It is clear that through their work with schools, the festivals are successfully engaging with areas of the city and communities that would otherwise tend not to participate in their programmes. The wards which record the lowest attendance at festivals are among the highest in terms of taking part in schools programmes. Many of these wards have areas which are among the most deprived in the country.”

New projects include a Teachers’ Theatre Club, which was instigated by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and children’s festival Imaginate, the book festival instigating a writer-in-residence scheme for several schools in the city, the art festival working towards the creation of a new work of art in Wester Hailes and the jazz festival getting primary pupils in the city’s annual carnival.

Festivals Edinburgh director Julia Amour said: “This is first time we’ve ever pulled together a compete map, not just all of the schools that the festivals work with, but all the projects and activities.

“We wanted to look at the full city-wide picture to make sure we’re working as effectively as possible with schools, but also let all schools in the city understand what’s out there and how they can make the most of it, and let us really grow the year-round impact and engagement of the festivals. It’s also really important that people see these festivals as deeply local, as well as highly international.

“We’re definitely succeeding in targeting areas where people are less likely to come to the festivals on their own, but we really want to build on that. We also want to speak to schools that are really engaging with all kinds of different festivals to see what the students and staff are getting out of it.”