School: Fortrose Academy on the Black Isle, 600 pupils; head of English Ann Mackay
What has been the best arts company to visit your school in the past year?
The Starfeis project, a youth drama programme for Highland teenagers run by Eden Court Education. It features a combination of visiting companies and regular sessions with a drama worker.
How did you hear about them?
Sonia Rose, the Eden Court arts development officer, asked if we'd like something on a weekly basis. How could we refuse!
What did they do?
Initially Starfeis held a social skills drama workshop for all 14-year-olds - they did this for every pupil in the Highlands (over 3,000). Since then we've had members from the Royal National Theatre doing a workshop of their Twelfth Night production. On a regular basis we now receive a weekly visit from a drama worker and occasionally a specialist, most recently one in stage fighting.
With what age group?
The whole programme is aimed at third-year pupils.
Did you do any preparation beforehand?
Before the Twelfth Night visit we looked at the text, characters and basic plot line. Because the follow-up work is regular, we don't feel we need to do specific additional preparation for these sessions.
Any follow-up work?
We have leisure periods on Friday afternoon and these are often used for additional drama work.
How long did they stay?
The current Starfeis worker visits for a two-hour session weekly.
How much does it cost?
It doesn't cost anything.
All costs are met centrally by the Starfeis project. They've been given grant assistance by the Esmee Fairburn Trust to enable this.
What was so good about them?
What we lack most in the Highlands is consistency of provision and the Starfeis project recognises that for proper drama development to take place, visits cannot be one-off. The provision is there for a school to turn to over the four-year programme. It's good for pupils to work with artists in residence on a regular basis.
Eden Court Theatre, tel: 01463 239841