Hay Festival Educational Trust partners Welsh Government for free schools days

Cressida Cowell, Juno Dawson, Patrick Ness, Matt Dickinson, Tom Palmer, Big Friday Night Wind-Up stars Sam and Mark, Phil Earle, Frances Hardinge, Holly Smale and

The Royal Shakespeare Company lead bespoke programming

Hay Festival Educational Trust and the Welsh Government have partnered to offer unique educational opportunities for both primary and secondary school pupils at this year’s Hay Festival Wales.

On Thursday 26 May (Key Stage 2) and Friday 27 (Key Stages 3 and 4), before the main festival begins, the Hay Festival site will host a schools programme with workshops, giving thousands of pupils and teachers the chance to meet a range of writers, scientists, explorers, historians and award winning novelists. This includes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for pupils to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of celebrations for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Designed to inspire and enthuse all pupils at Key Stages 2, 3 and 4, the two-day special programme is free to all state schools as part of the festival’s commitment to young people, and is funded by Hay Festival Educational Trust and the Welsh Government. There are also various options for schools to cover the cost of transport and other associated costs, which means that learners from across Wales can take advantage of this fantastic opportunity at absolutely no cost to schools or families.

Every child from participating schools in Wales will be invited to bring a book from school or home and donate it to the Oxfam Bookshop at the Festival. In exchange, they will be given a new book that has been pre-paid and pre-ordered through the Hay Festival bookshop. Thereby each child, no matter what their household income, can bring a book to donate and receive a new book.

Hay Festival is a celebration of culture that attracts some of the world’s best writers, poets, filmmakers, environmentalists and scientists to Wales. It is a wonderful event with a 29-year record in opening eyes and firing imaginations and I am delighted that we have been able to part-fund a programme that will enable pupils in Wales to be right at the heart of the action and enjoy all that Hay Festival has to offer.
— Welsh Government Education Minister Huw Lewis
Every year Hay Festival brings writers and readers together to inspire, examine and entertain, programming some of the world’s leading thinkers across our stages. Central to this is our support of the next generation of thinkers and we’re thrilled to partner with the Welsh government in giving free access to our special schools days to pupils and teachers.
— Hay Festival Director Peter Florence

Young people will be able to unleash their imaginations and discover new skills with the chance to hear from mountain climber Matt Dickinson, sports writer Tom Palmer, to meet stars of Pop Idol and Big Friday Night Wind-Up Sam and Mark, talk superheroes with Phil Earle, learn code-breaking with a real life Enigma Machine, learn Dragonese with Cressida Cowell and explore the true science behind Star Wars.

For older students and teenagers, the line-up is equally impressive, full of events for readers and writers eager to know more about the stories they love. Hear from Frances Hardinge, author of The Lie Tree, an intense Gothic murder mystery, this year’s winner of the Costa Book Award, Holly Smale, author of the hilarious and wildly popular Geek Girl series, and Juno Dawson,who will discuss her latest book Mind Your Heada non-fiction mental health guide for teens. Best-selling author Patrick Ness, who has won every major prize in children’s fiction, will be making an appearance, too. Across both days the Royal Shakespeare Company will run sessions that delve into some of the Bard’s most popular plays and make them vivid, accessible and enjoyable for young people.

There will also be residential opportunities at Hay for some of Wales’ most talented and able Sixth Formers, enabling them to develop their creative skills, work with professional writers and take part in a range of tailored workshops and activities.

The Welsh Government funding will also help to set up a dedicated student hub at the Festival, which will mean 16-20-year-olds have their own area for socialising and finding out more about university life.

For more information, visit www.hayfestival.org