ISTA for Parents

Here’s what you need to know about sending your child to one of our events.

As parents of a prospective ISTA student you will have three main concerns – your child’s safety and wellbeing while at an ISTA event, the value for money of an ISTA trip, and the short and long term impact ISTA will have on your child.

Parents tell us time and again that their child came home ‘changed’, ‘more confident’, with stronger communication skills, more passionate about the world of theatre, having made life long friends, totally inspired – the list goes on. We know from 35 years experience that we deliver time and again and you won’t be disappointed. An ISTA trip will resonate with your child for many years to come, regardless of their chosen profession.

We work with all young people, not only those heading into the arts. We hear back from students 10, 20, 30 years after their ISTA experience; now immersed in a career in science, journalism, business, you name it – and all say they remember their ISTA trip clearly and what an impact it made on them as a growing adult – lessons learned and friendships formed that still resonate today.

The key things you need to know as a parent

Your child will be in safe hands. They’ll be looked after, cared for, nurtured and protected at all stages of the trip.

We provide the very best tuition for your child with our pool of artists from across the globe. We bring in a diverse, experienced and inspiring team of artists to work with your child because we know how valuable that is.

We’ve been producing ISTA festivals for over 35 years and so we know what works. We’re confident about our model and we’ve built current events on years of experience. 


Parent and Head of School, Totty Aris, talks about her children’s experiences with ISTA.


Our Executive Director, Sally Robertson, explains what being part of ISTA means for parents.


ISTA seems to be more expensive than other trips, why is this?

We recognise that ISTA trips are more expensive than other trips your child may be offered. This is because, unlike say a sports trip – when your child attends ISTA they are signing up to three full days of tuition with an outstanding team of international ISTA artists.

The added value from ISTA is the high level of tuition received. And this is where 90% of the ISTA registration costs are spent. We bring in a diverse, experienced and inspiring team of artists to work with your child because we know how valuable that is. Giving them an opportunity to work with someone ‘other’ than their regular teacher – and to return inspired, informed and with a whole range of theatrical and transferable skills and attributes. This is what makes us more costly but also sets us apart. Because of this high level, immersive teaching – the impact on your child is potentially greater.

What sets ISTA apart from other school trips my child may be interested in?

Where do we start?

It’s the immersive nature of the experience – dawn till dusk for three days.

It’s about working with peers from other international schools – making empathic connections; all participants – strangers on day one and the best of friends by day three.

It’s about aspiration – we’re going to make a play about this idea – and we do…

It’s about non-competitive theatre – collaboration, process driven, inquiry based, tackling key concepts and ideas that will change the way your child thinks. It’s also about your child not becoming a star but being part of an ensemble. Learning about theatre, through theatre, making theatre.

It’s about non-theatre skills too – transferable skills such as creative thinking, developing confidence, leading, supporting, solving problems, listening, laughing… all essential to young people in the 21st century.

It’s about exposing your child to international artists with varied, exciting and wonderful skill sets and approaches to teaching.

It’s about placing your child in an environment in which international mindedness and cultural literacy can flourish through the interactions between people, place and perspectives.

It’s about your child developing intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically – better able to understand who they are and their place in the world.

It’s about helping your child become empowered to engage with and change the world responsibly.

Why should we, as parents, commit to our child attending ISTA?

We’ve said enough, let’s hear from the horses mouth…

“I noticed that (my son) became surer of himself and happier. I asked why he liked ISTA so much. He said he was able to express himself without judgement. At 15 he is smack in the middle of adolescence and being part of ISTA helps make this complex period easier for him. He is totally dedicated to it and it’s making him be a more responsible teenager. For me as a parent, the arts are nourishment for the soul and thus make us more complete, well-rounded human beings. I would recommend ISTA to almost all parents.”

“My son came home from ISTA bursting with stories. Any experience that gives so much empowerment and positivity is certainly well worth the investment of time, effort and resources. My son has not done theatre since ISTA and that’s OK. The ISTA experience goes beyond the classroom or stage. I know. I see this every day with my boy, who in my totally biased opinion, is awesome inside and out.”

“ISTA was the first time my daughter had worked with like minded teenagers rather than in a regular lesson where, perhaps, some students did not have the same degree of interest in the subject. This was repeated at later ISTA festivals. When it came to applying for theatre at University she was able to refer to these experiences. She now has a career in theatre in the field of stage management.”

“My son will always be interested in Drama but he came away from the ISTA festival with so much more: a social network of other like minded people as they compared schools, systems, ToK ideas and future aspirations. ISTA is a melting pot of promise and the experiential learning gave our children food for thought that will sit with them for many years to come.”