#cheltlitfest Schools Programme Summary

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With a brand new venue – the vibrant Little Big Top – and a wide ranging, engagine programme, our Education team at Cheltenham Festivals celebrated a more than successful year, bringing thousands of children to the Festival to explore literature in all its facetts.

More than 7000 pupils from 79 schools visited The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival this year. A further 1000 pupils came to events in the Adult Programme and more still participated in our year-round programmes which culminated at the Festival, taking the total number of school children engaging with the Literature Festival in 2016 to nearly 9000 from 97 different schools.

Just brilliant! Our children loved the experience – from attending the talks to meeting the authors. The only thing I’ll do differently is to book sooner next year so we can attend more!


Thousands of pupils came face-to-face with popular authors, illustrators and poets in twenty one sold-out events. Julia Donaldson delighted 1400 young children in our largest ever children’s event, while other favourites included Frank Cottrell Boyce, Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.

Pupils also had the opportunity to get active in 14 workshops, 2 of which were whole-day immersive experiences. Examples included dramatic Shakespeare sessions, poetry writing and performance, and journalistic writing with The Times journalists.

Eight new workshops for secondary students were added to the programme this year, designed in consultation with English Subject Leads. Three How To… events enabled students to work alongside professional writers to develop specific writing skills, while two further sessions offered them a window into the worlds of publishing and journalism.

Moreover, the first year of Cheltenham Festivals’ year-round writer-in-residence programme culminated in a dynamic event at the Festival. After a rousing opening performance from the performance poet MC Angel, students from each school read from their Anthologies to a public audience which included students, parents, sponsors and patrons.

Schools extended their stay at the Festival by participating in the popular Discovery Trail across the site, and also in one of the many free activities on offer. These included Storytelling with National Storytelling Laureate Katrice Horseley, and twelve Reading Paintings sessions led by The Wilson Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum and generously sponsored by Cheltenham Decorative and Fine Arts Society.