Hay Festival Wales Programme for Schools revealed

Hay Festival Wales has today unveiled the Programme for Schools for this spring’s edition, 21-31 May, merging award-winning writers with inspiring new takes on science and history reimagined.

Children’s and Young Adult favourites lead the events, including current Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, former Laureates Michael Rosen and Jacqueline Wilson, award-winning writers Akala, Patrice Lawrence, Mohammad Khan, Elizabeth Acevedo and Lucy Worsley, rising stars Onjali Q Rauf, Sue Cheung and Dean Atta and activists Laura Bates and Laura Coryton.

Mixing storytelling and live performances on the two specially curated days, Thursday 21 May (KS 2) and Friday 22May (KS 3 and 4), are free for State schools and part-funded by the Welsh Government.

Booking applications open today and close Friday 1 May. Find out more at hayfestival.org/schools. To increase access to sessions further, Programme for Schools events will again be streamed online direct to classrooms around the country; teachers can register now at hayfestival.org/livestream.

Last year’s Programme for Schools saw 9,200 pupils attend from primary and secondary schools across Wales and England. It is part of the Festival’s wider education work and commitment to young people that also includes Hay Compass, Hay Academy, free tickets for students in tertiary education, Hay Festival Scribblers Tour, and the Beacons Project, a free workshop residency for 16-18-year-olds interested in writing (details on how to apply at hayfestival.org).

Aine Venables, Hay Festival Education Manager, said: “Here is a programme to inspire the next generation of world-changers with inspiring fiction and new ideas. Our 2020 Programme for Schools seeks to spark a love of reading for pleasure with a line-up of speakers offering a diverse range of events for pupils in Key Stages 2, 3 and 4. Everyone is welcome. Join us.”

Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams said: “I’m really pleased that Welsh Government are once again supporting Hay Festival’s Programme for Schools as it allows learners to have access to creativity experiences outside of the classroom.

“As well as giving opportunities to schools across Wales to attend Hay Festival, every school will now benefit from having access to a digital live streaming service, enabling access is even greater than ever

“This will be an exciting part of learning, ensuring equity of access to rich cultural experiences which is will be at the heart of our new curriculum.”


On Thursday 21 May – Key Stage 2 day – the programme features award-winning fiction, two Children’s Laureates and engaging new takes on science and history:

Great fiction inspires, entertains and offers a taste of other lives as Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell talks The Wizards of Once; Michael Rosen offers up his reimagining of Shakespeare, Macbeth United; award-winning novelist Onjali Q Rauf talks The Boy at the Back of the Class; BBC presenter Konnie Huq talks Cookies and The Most Annoying Boy in the World; Eloise Williams presents her thriller, Wilde

History is reimagined as award-winning author Chae Strathie talks So you Think You've got it bad? Ancient Romans; Emma Carroll presents her new historical adventure, The Somerset Tsunami; Bali Rai presents Now or Never: A Dunkirk Story; and Pamela Butchart revisits the Greek Myths with Icarus was Ridiculous.

Meanwhile, science and literature collide as Stefan Gates presents Science you can eat, the Science Museum offers up their “Greatest Hits” show, and science teacher Christopher Edge presents his suspenseful new tale that explores black holes and quantum physics, The Longest Night of Charlie Noon.

On Friday 22 May – Key Stage 3 & 4 day – the programme blends the best of fiction and non-fiction for young adults to inspire and engage:

Internationally acclaimed writers bring their latest works to life as Jacqueline Wilson talks Love Frankie; Patrice Lawrence presents Rose, Interrupted; Stonewall Book Award 2020 winner Dean Atta presents his debut The Black FlamingoEveryday Sexism founder Laura Bates talks The Burning; and Mohammad Khan explores bullying, gang culture and the joy of comics with Kick the Moon. Spoken word superstar Akala performs from his latest collection, The Dark LadyNew York Times-and bestselling U.S. author Elizabeth Acevedo presents her novel-in-verse, Clap When You Land.

Real-life stories inspire as Laura Coryton encourages young people to change the world for the better with Speak Up; Lucy Worsley talks The Austen Girls; and Sue Cheung presents her diary of growing up Chinese in 1980s Coventry, Chinglish.

Science merges with new forms of storytelling as Jon Chase presents A Science Rapper's Guide to the Environmentand the Science Museum offers up their “Greatest Hits” show.

While the full Hay Festival 2020 main programme will be announced at Easter, a handful of early-bird events have already been released including sessions featuring Van Morrison, Caro Emerald, Kate Rusby, Aled Jones and Russell Watson, Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry, Hilary Mantel, Ali Smith, Gloria Steinem, Afua Hirsch, Jung Chang, Amadou & Mariam with the Blind Boys of Alabama, Aldous Harding, and Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour.

Over 600 award-winning writers, global policy makers, pioneers and innovators are expected to appear at the late spring festival in events across 11 days, while HAYDAYS and #HAYYA programmes will give young readers the opportunity to meet their favourite writers and get creative alongside a variety of free activities and programmes supported by the Hay Festival Foundation. The Festival village is free to enter, with ticketed events in 10 tented venues, plus a range of sites to explore, including the Festival Bookshop; the HAYDAYS courtyard; the Hay Festival Wild Garden; creative workshops in the Make and Take Tent, the Scribblers Hut, The Cube and the Mess Tent; market stalls, cafés and restaurants; and the Serious Reading Room.

For more information on the Festival's Programme for Schools see here.