Warhorse, Literature 2013

Children Are Our Future

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We caught up with Cheltenham Festivals Director of Education, Ali Mawle, to find out what the Education Team have been up to this Festivals year, what’s still to come and what to look out for in 2014…

Hundreds of families and over 30,000 pupils and teachers participated in the 2013 Cheltenham Festivals

Highlights included:

  • 650 local children beatboxing, storytelling through song and painting to music in Cheltenham Town Hall
  • Scientists from 10 London secondary schools competing at the Bloomsbury Theatre to become the first winner of FameLab Academy
  • Writing from 2400 children pouring in from around the world during a live blogging session at the Literature Festival

What attracts me to the role of Director of Education is finding ways of sharing Cheltenham Festivals with a wider audience and developing longer-term projects which deepen their impact locally.

There is a wealth of experience to build upon; over the years Cheltenham Festivals has initiated a host of events and projects which have inspired children and young people by bringing them into contact with world famous scientists, musicians and writers.

There have been so many golden moments already… the performance by over 200 local primary school children and a full youth orchestra to 1200 people in Tewkesbury Abbey…

[2013 highlights]

Before taking up the post in September in time for the Literature Festival, I was able to dip into the Jazz, Science and Music Festivals. There have been so many golden moments already: seeing local youth jazz bands play to hundreds in Montpellier Gardens; the buzz of the Science family fun day; the performance by over 200 local primary school children and a full youth orchestra to 1200 people in Tewkesbury Abbey; and the awe and wonder on the faces of thousands of children coming face-to-face with their favourite authors.

I have been particularly motivated by two new initiatives which have had a direct impact on the lives of hundreds of young people already.

Thanks to the support of EDF Energy we were able to take FameLab, the world’s leading science communication project, into ten secondary schools in Tower Hamlets. Students introduced scientific concepts in 3-minutes to a panel of judges. The high profile judges, drawn from industry and research arenas, judged the students on the content, clarity and charisma of their presentations. A winner was selected to represent each school at the finals at the Bloomsbury Theatre. The overall winner, Simi Adeshina, wowed the audience with his brilliant explanation of why we yawn…

The live blogging session during the event ignited writing in schools in thirty six countries!

[Tools to Tell a Tale event]

The other new initiative is our teacher events. Working with Nelson Thornes, we attracted teachers from across the United Kingdom to Tools to Tell a Tale, a unique event which demonstrated the potential of digital software and blogging for developing children’s writing. The live blogging session during the event ignited writing in schools in thirty six countries! In the days following the event a teacher from Leicestershire tweeted: ‘My class blog has been filled with writing since #tttAt. They have been truly inspired’

To give you a sneak preview of what is in store in 2014: 100 young musicians in Gloucestershire who are learning a stringed instrument will have the unique opportunity to work alongside the world famous violinist Nicola Benedetti in a weekend of workshops and masterclasses which will culminate in a performance at the Music Festival. Look out for more information and get involved!

We finish 2013 by taking the best of the Science Festival to five locations across the country. In December our series of spectacular science shows will bring thousands of teenagers from Lancaster to Dungeness into contact with inspirational scientists.

To find out more about the work of the Cheltenham Festivals Education Team, click here

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