National Theatre of Scotland & The Scottish Salmon Company
Theatre in Schools Scotland (TiSS)
Community & social empowerment | Education & learning | Health & wellbeing | Young people
When the classroom becomes a stage
Over the last 20 years, thanks to the influence of Imaginate and the creativity and success of companies such as Visible Fictions, Starcatchers and Catherine Wheels, Scottish theatre for children and young people now ranks amongst the best in the world, with productions celebrated both at home and globally. The benefit of young people’s engagement with the arts is well documented and there is significant research to confirm that access to theatre and cultural experience both enriches young lives and impacts positively on health and wellbeing.
The Theatre in Schools Scotland (TiSS) three-year pilot was developed by the National Theatre of Scotland, in partnership with leading performing arts companies for children and young people across the country. The ambition of the project is to create a model that brings specially designed, professional theatre performances to every child, in their own school, across every local authority in Scotland.
The advantages of a three-year funding commitment include building on experience to enhance delivery. As findings from Year 1 showed that pupils benefitted most when teachers fully engaged with TiSS, a priority in Year 2 was to enhance that engagement by providing pre-show information in a succinct way to help teachers fully understand the nature of the theatre visit as well as its content, characters and themes. A series of short films shot from the rehearsal room, and including interviews with directors and cast, was introduced. This was accompanied by a brief ‘Classroom Links’ document for each production, developed in consultation with Year 1 class teachers.
Initially, The Scottish Salmon Company signed a one-year sponsorship agreement with NTS but they have gone on to renew their support each year, continuing to offer life-changing cultural experiences in the rural communities where they farm. This partnership is an excellent fit as both organisations are committed to delivering world-class quality within Scotland and across the world; both are committed to supporting communities across the length and breadth of Scotland; and both believe that their ‘product’ has a positive impact on health and wellbeing.
The National Theatre of Scotland is The Scottish Salmon Company’s only national sponsorship programme and this has raised the business’s profile in the national media and with Scottish Government. As Scotland’s ‘flag carrying’ aquaculture business, the partnership provides an international profile too which is reflected in marketing and sales events worldwide, offering a clear and marketable Scottish cultural connection.
CBFS match funding allowed the ambition of the initial pilot to be extended and, in Year 2, across the 2017 autumn tour, TiSS delivered 143 performances to 153 schools in 23 regions of Scotland reaching total audiences of 13,000 – a result that NTS believes could not have been achieved without CBFS support. In total, over the three-year commitment, TiSS has been delivered across 28 educations authorities in Scotland, including schools in Argyll, the Hebrides and the North West Highlands.
At the end of Year 3, class teachers across 55 schools in 20 local authority areas completed a total of 116 questionnaires. These revealed that 100% agreed that the project was a high quality theatre experience for children, that children enjoyed the performance and that the performance generated discussion in the classroom. 99% of respondents agreed that theatre performances in school have the potential to help children understand complex issues and also improve their emotional robustness while 93% believe that theatre performances in school have the potential to help children improve their academic attainment.
Continuing the partnership with The Scottish Salmon Company has allowed NTS to develop more pathways for engagement and, in November 2017, members of the TiSS team met Mark Hanniffy, Consul General of Ireland in Scotland at The Scottish Salmon Company's annual St Andrews Day celebration and shared details of the programme and the partnership. Following this, in early February 2018, Mark Hanniffy arranged a visit to Rockvilla (NTS’s creation centre) for a delegation from the Irish Government that included the new Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD. Here, the Irish contingent was invited to hear about the TiSS programme and its impact on Scotland's education and cultural sectors.
Print and online media promotions also enhanced both partners’ profiles and included photocalls with performers and young people in local schools in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles. National coverage saw Joyce McMillan run two high profile features for The Scotsman magazine while a dedicated TiSS website credited The Scottish Salmon Company’s support. A Theatre in Schools Scotland Tour Diary was written by show performers, detailing their adventures in Arran and Mull, Tobermory and Lochgoilhead, for inclusion in the Christmas edition of the business’s magazine Braden Tales.