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Will your secondary school win the Keys to Stirling Castle?

13 March 2012

                                   Pupils from Larbert High School, Falkirk (Brenna McBride (left) and Jon Dixon, both aged 12)

Pupils from Larbert High School today, Tuesday 13th March, attended the launch of the Keys to the Castle Competition at Stirling Castle.

The Keys to the Castle Competition is organised by Historic Scotland in partnership with Springboard Scotland and is open to all secondary schools in Scotland.  

The winning team will win a VIP visit to Stirling Castle where they will be special guests of Historic Scotland.  During an activity-packed day, pupils will learn more about the fascinating history of the castle and have the opportunity to find out what makes it one of Scotland’s leading tourist attractions.

In addition this year the winning school will have an extra special prize with a year-long relationship with Historic Scotland that can benefit classes other than the winning team.  The school will be able choose five ‘Masterclasses’ delivered by Historic Scotland to highlight a range of careers in tourism.

Schools can register for the competition by logging on to the Springboard Careers Festival website or can email Carolyn Baird at Each school can enter as many teams as they wish and from all year groups.

As well as a set of multiple choice questions to test their research skills, the schools have to come up with a winning 100 words to capture why historic sites are so important to Scottish tourism.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said:  “This is a brilliant opportunity for young people to gain an understanding and insight into the dynamic tourism and hospitality industry in Scotland.  It is particularly encouraging to see how this initiative has expanded from last year to give the winning school a year long relationship with Historic Scotland.  

“Tourism is vital to our economy and our fascinating culture and heritage attract visitors from around the world.  Stirling Castle, which recently re-opened its palace apartments to the public after a £12m restoration to return the apartments to how they may looked at the time of a young Mary Queen of Scots saw increases of 15%, taking visitor numbers to 4333,394.  

“This year celebrates the Year of Creative Scotland 2012 and we have a year long programme of world class activities to highlight our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage. This initiative will show how important it is to give our visitors a world-class welcome to Scotland.”

Sue Mitchell, Historic Scotland’s Head of Learning Services said:  “This initiative was a huge success last year.   St Thomas of Aquin’s High School in Edinburgh was a worthy winner of the competition showing a clear insight as to the contribution historic sites make to Scottish tourism.  The pupils thoroughly enjoyed their VIP visit, which was hot on the heels of the re-opening of Stirling Palace.  

“We have added an extra element this year to enable the winning school to choose from five Masterclasses including Sales & Marketing, Product Development, Interpretation, Job Application and Interviewing Skills, Tour Guiding, Retailing, Customer Service and Delivering Education Activities.

“We hope this will inspire young people to consider a career in tourism. In addition Historic Scotland craft skills apprentices are designing and crafting a specially commissioned trophy which will be presented to the winning school.”

Carolyn Baird of Springboard Scotland added:  "This exciting initiative not only offers the lucky winners the most fantastic opportunity to 'claim the keys' to Stirling Castle for their VIP visit, but to also forge a lasting relationship with Historic Scotland over the following year! We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to the winning school through our partnership with Historic Scotland and to be launching the challenge during Scottish Tourism Careers Festival as part of Scottish Tourism Week".

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • The Year of Creative Scotland begins on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at: The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL.

                                                       Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

Jennifer Johnston-Watt
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8070 or 07827 956 866