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Holiday Camps at SJM Performance Academy   

Is your child of school age? Do they enjoy acting, dancing or singing? Would you like them to develop their confidence in a close-knit, supportive setting? If so, a week-long holiday camp at Edinburgh’s SJM Creative may be just the ticket!

I met SJM’s Founding Director, Stephen Martin, to find out more about his school.

What led you to start your week-long holiday camps?

In 2011 I began directing the South Morningside Primary School Stage Club. But this only ran from September to March and was limited to 80 children in P6/7. Parent volunteers kept saying, “You should do something during the summer too”. Having taken time to find the right venue, I launched the summer camps in 2014.

What’s your background?

I have a degree in Performing Arts and initially thought I’d go into acting. But immediately after graduating, teaching, choreographing and writing took over!

What makes SJM Creative special?

The Venue

We have a long-standing relationship with Marchmont St Giles’. It’s not just a church, but a community hub of kids and toddler groups, plus adult classes. The minister here is 100% behind children’s development and the performing arts. We can therefore offer a spacious, safe and supportive environment.

The Community

At SJM we pride ourselves on building open, honest relationships with parents and children alike. Many students return every year with their friends, or attend classes year-round.

Inclusivity and affordability

Students come here from independent and state schools alike and we provide opportunities they wouldn’t ordinarily get. Either because of their school’s focus, or due to a lack of resources/funds.

While many students come from the Morningside/Marchmont area, our fees don’t reflect this at all. We are one of the most affordable schools around, but we don’t compromise on class size. Each group of 10 students has a teacher and a helper, so a lot of 1:1 coaching takes place.

Well-qualified staff

The teachers here all have performing arts degrees, or specialise in teaching. Since they also work for other companies, they also bring new ideas and experiences.

How is each week structured?

On Monday we do lots of warm-up exercises in order to get to know the students and their individual strengths. Then they split off into groups, according to their age. Each week is geared towards a themed, Friday ‘showcase’. (Some past themes have been ‘Disney’, ‘musicals’ and ‘Inside out’) The showcase is written with the groups’ strengths in mind and each class has 1 or 2 scenes to work on over the week. Older children receive scripts to learn; younger children will be taught songs and dances.

On Friday we run through the show several times using lights, microphones etc. The momentum builds gradually over the week towards the live performance and this keeps the children engaged and motivated. It’s all about instilling a sense of commitment and mutual support.

How does the experience differ for younger and older children?

Every day, each group has a class in singing, dance and drama. But the younger children will also have a session outside, interactive games and plenty of arts and crafts opportunities. While older students prefer to focus on the showcase itself, younger children need the variety.

What will my child gain from the SJM experience?

Parents have noted how their children grow in confidence from Monday to Friday. It requires dedication and commitment to stand up in front of people, learn lines and get through a performance. The process is very rewarding.

The holiday camps are also a fantastic opportunity to make new friends outside school. There’s always a core contingent of children who attend classes together year-round. Performing is about being involved in a support network and learning to work as a team.


When do the holiday camps run?

From 28th June - 13th August 2021

How old does my child need to be to attend classes? P1-S6

Do you provide early drop-offs and late pick-ups for working parents? Yes! The teaching day runs from 10am - 3pm but we run an extended day from 9am-5pm.


Phone: 0131 665 7571

Location: Marchmont St Giles’ Parish Church, Edinburgh EH9 2DW


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