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Festival courts controversy as event explores first-time sex

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has a bewildering array of events for young people, in its schools programme and in the main schedule. Henry Hepburn flicks through some of the highlights

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has a bewildering array of events for young people, in its schools programme and in the main schedule. Henry Hepburn flicks through some of the highlights

Education Secretary Michael Russell would be delighted at how much the Curriculum for Excellence has infiltrated this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The activities in the Royal Bank of Scotland Schools Programme "perfectly complement" the four capacities across every school subject, says children and education programme director Sara Grady. Each event's entry in the published programme includes three suggestions of how it could inspire classroom work.

But when asked for a standout event, Ms Grady highlights the potential controversy of a session about having sex for the first time (August 23, S3-4). Billed in the programme as a "fun and revealing event", this has authors Keith Gray and Patrick Ness talking about their contributions to the anthology Losing It! They will explore, for example, why someone aged 16 can legally have an experience that he or she is not allowed to witness in a cinema.

"It's important for the festival to ask these questions," Ms Grady says.

One big draw for schools is likely to be John Boyne (August 23, P6-S2) whose The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was turned into a successful film. He will reveal what it was like to discuss his book with Holocaust survivors.

Falkirk author Alan Bisset is not the most obvious participant for primary classes, given the adult content of many of his books. But he works with schools to improve literacy through graphic novels, and will draw on The Incredible Adam Spark and its lively use of the Scots language (August 30, P6-7).

Martin Brown, illustrator of the Horrible Histories series, will take his audience step by step through the creation of his gruesome, gory drawings (August 25, P4-7).

And for older pupils, the Scottish Book Trust's virtual writer-in- residence Catherine Forde and teen novelist Sara Manning plan to reveal how music inspires their work (August 30, S2-5).

The annual gala for primary schools, on the final day (August 31), will include hugely successful authors such as Julia Donaldson (P1-3) and Joan Lingard (P5-7). Kjartan Poskitt, of Murderous Maths fame, will show how to make numbers exciting (P4-7), and there will be an environmentally-themed session in the mysteriously-named PowerPod.

Organisers stress that the schools programme is not only for those who can make it to Edinburgh's Charlotte Square Gardens, where all listed events are held. Some authors will travel to schools as part of the festival's outreach.

To register:

E schools@edbookfest.co.uk

www.edbookfest.co.uk

Booking opens tomorrow

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The pound;5, 5pm CPD slots continue

- US author David Shenk rubbishes the notion that talent is innate (August 19).

- Educational consultants Steve Bell and Sallie Harkness introduce the Storyline method of teaching for primary schools, which originated in Glasgow but is now used in many countries (August 24).

- Children's Laureate Anthony Browne talks about picture books, particularly "visual literacy" and "reading pictures" (August 26).

- West Dunbartonshire Council executive director of educational services Terry Lanagan explores assessment methods, and how Curriculum for Excellence recognises "wider achievements" (August 30).

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