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Every primary schoolchild in Scotland to see live theatre once a year

National Theatre of Scotland artistic director Laurie Sansom (centre, back row) with Craig Anderson, managing director of scheme sponsor Scottish Salmon Company (left), Paul Fitzpatrick, director of Imaginate children's theatre festival, and Chermaine Zhao (aged 11), Angus Sim (aged six), Esme Farmer (aged five) and Fergus Jajdelski (aged 11). Photo: Colin Hattersley National Theatre of Scotland artistic director Laurie Sansom (centre, back row) with Craig Anderson, managing director of scheme sponsor Scottish Salmon Company (left), Paul Fitzpatrick, director of Imaginate children's theatre festival, and Chermaine Zhao (aged 11), Angus Sim (aged six), Esme Farmer (aged five) and Fergus Jajdelski (aged 11). Photo: Colin Hattersley
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Every primary school pupil in Scotland will experience at least one live theatrical performance in their own school every year, under a new project launched in Edinburgh today.

Theatre in Schools Scotland is a joint initiative from Imaginate, Scotland’s national organisation devoted to theatre and dance for children and young people, and the National Theatre of Scotland.

NTS will bring its expertise as a ‘theatre without walls’ to the project. The company’s experience includes visiting geographically hard-to-reach communities with its work.

The initial pilot project will expand over three years, exploring different models for touring theatre into schools.

During its first year it will work in partnership with theatre companies Catherine Wheels and Visible Fictions, as well as preschool theatre organisation Starcatchers.

The intention is to build the project up over the three years to achieve the ability to tour to every school every year and establish the financial model to allow TISS to do so.

This autumn, TISS will tour Catherine Wheels’ Martha and Visible Fictions’ Shopping for Shoes to more than 30 different schools. With four performances in each, this will be seen by an estimated 15,000 pupils.

According to a statement from TISS: “In addition to the performances, the initiative will also develop and encourage teacher engagement through ongoing education events in the pilot years.

“Theatre in Schools Scotland will maximise current public investment in the arts through wider dissemination of existing high-quality work, delivering creative and aesthetic education for teachers and providing new tools to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence.”

The initial project is cross-funded by participating organisations, local authorities, schools and sponsors the Scottish Salmon Company and Arts and Business Scotland.

The initiative comes amid debate around the place of live theatre in education, with school theatre trips in decline.

Earlier this year, English exam boards came under fire for new GCSE drama rules, which will allow students to pass the course without seeing any live theatre.

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