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The Story Makers Company
Promoting inclusive and creative learning in education through story.
We believe that the stories we create, and share should celebrate diversity, promote global citizenship and critical thinking.
Story Makers Company was established in 2017 by academics, teachers and artists concerned with the lack of creative opportunities for young people inside and outside school, particularly those from socially underrepresented and economically disadvantaged communities
Our academic and practice-based research focuses on creative learning in education, researching with and alongside children through the use of drama and creative writing. In collaboration with children, teachers, artist educators, education leaders, cultural and community groups we seek to create meaningful learning which relates to children’s lived experiences. We aim to challenge policy which advocates narrowing curricula and the marginalization of the arts, in addressing issues which support the holistic learning and wellbeing of children.
Our research aims to advance knowledge of the ways creative processes work and in which creative learning can support young people and equip them with the capabilities for living and thriving together in a changing world.
We seek to work with educational and arts professionals from across the sector from early years to further education, empowering them to create imaginative and creative learning and curricula. This approach to education aims to reengage young learners by building their confidence, developing their emotional literacy, critical thinking and creating an imaginative community they can belong to. Through our research and CPD we create learning resources for and with schools which advocate an integrated curriculum approach to learning. We also work with theatre, drama practitioners, children’s authors and illustrators.
We are committed to nurturing a love of story for and with children.
We are committed to developing opportunities for marginalised young people.
We work in partnership with children and artistic partners as co- researchers to capture work that is already happening.
We work in an organic way which is not predetermined by goals.
Changing landscapes of arts practice in schools:
- Teacher Development Fund - Empowering Voice: Working across 8 schools alongside teachers and artists in the BD5 area in Bradford, the 2-year project looks at building children’s oracy and communication skills through drama. This involves supporting teacher’s and artists to integrate creative learning across the curriculum through an online ‘story exchange.’
- Arted: Running across 3 years, this is a trans-European ERASMUS+ funded project which seeks to transfer the knowledge of artists to teachers and parents in order to boost children's wellbeing and creativity
- Creative Therapy to Impact on Urban Health: There is a lack of capacity and expertise in Lambeth, Brixton Learning Collaborative and Oval Learning to support children experiencing poor mental health in schools. Over the next year, in partnership with schools, communities and specialists across this demographic, Lisa Stephenson and Nicole Gridley will evaluate the impact of creative therapies across 20 schools in this area.
Future Literacies (Re-imagining Home, Museum of Legends and Common Ground Project): Rethinking the curriculum through online storying work with schools and communities.
- Re-imagining Home: This project was designed to provide a creative space for Story Rebels to make stories and fictional histories together using music, words, images, objects and materials through the pandemic.
- Museum of Legends: Story Makers Company partnered with CRED at Leeds Beckett University and Project Ujima to co-create a virtual Museum of Legends with young people from Chapeltown in Leeds.
- Common Ground Project : This award from Common Ground Common Ground – re-connecting young people with their heritage extends the Story Makers Reimagining Home and Museum of Legends projects, creating a new immersive online storying space for Ipswich Museum alongside the young people in care at Volunteering Matters.
Story Makers Press: The Story Makers Press uses drama and storytelling with children in order to get them to explore different narratives with us, which we then aim to transform into engaging fiction books.
Gathering transformative practices: Story Makers Dialogues is our shared practice working paper, Story Makers Hub is our shared space to create and articulate new artist-teacher practices, Story Makers Festival is our shared event to share practice and research
Creative Learning: Ethical Citizenship Award has been designed to facilitate an ethical curriculum in school. The award supports leaders and teams in schools and other educational settings, to develop a whole school culture of creative learning and ethical citizenship through the art.
Using a developmental framework schools will evaluate their current creative teaching practices and pedagogy, identify gaps, develop, and strengthen these and work towards a commitment to creative learning for their whole school community.
The award recognises the value that a creative learning community can have for both staff and pupils and the benefits and impact that the arts, culture, and creativity can have in developing meaningful and relevant learning opportunities for inclusion, sustainable thinking and the positive wellbeing of young people in 21st Century learning.
For further information and booking please email StoryMakers@leedsbeckett.ac.uk
explore story makers company
encouraging children’s voices and creativity
Story Makers Press
The Story Makers Press is a publisher focused on encouraging children’s voices and creativity. We aim to publish underrepresented narratives and issues and make sure that every child can see themselves in the books they read. Our goal is to help children become engaged and compassionate readers prepared to interact imaginatively with the world around them.
We use drama and storytelling with children in order to get them to explore different narratives with us, which we then aim to transform into engaging fiction books.
Buy our books here.
Explorer’s Guides: How can our books be used in schools?
Our books, and accompanying 'Explorer’s Guide', support schools in providing rich opportunities for children to critically reflect on the behaviour, actions and thoughts of others and themselves, by providing a structured approach to explore difficult issues through drama in a safe way. The guide provides a framework links to the wider curriculum and the holistic development of children.
Through the Explorers Guide children are given meaningful opportunities to:
- Develop an understanding of emotional literacy and positive wellbeing
- Develop imaginative and creative thinking skills
- Develop a shared sense of community and active citizenship
Through the Explorers Guide drama and creative writing pedagogies help teachers to:
- Develop an integrated curriculum which is mapped out including
- Through specialist and clearly explained drama techniques, address the Ofsted framework authentically
I absolutely loved it! I am a keen gamer myself so it was very much up my street and I know the boys in my class would love it and the girls too I imagine. The teacher guide was also really useful, and it was very easy to use and follow with enough scope for the teacher to add bits and pieces and incorporate their own activities.
Story Makers Company is the Educate North 2020 Innovation Award winner!
Story makers festival
Celebrating the power of story to transform ourselves and others, our annual festival brings together creative story makers from across the region: young people, families, educators, artists, mental health experts, museums, drama and theatre specialists, artists and authors. This practice into research day aims to share and create new interdisciplinary practices.
Story Makers Dialogues
The working paper series for the Story Makers Company aims to publish papers intended to connect creative arts based professionals from a range of settings to share and develop innovative, research informed learning opportunities.
We are committed to developing creative academic pathways and courses with our MA Drama and Creative Writing in Education and Professional Doctorate in Education. Our MA Drama and Creative Practice in Education draws directly from our practice- based research and placements are facilitated through Story Makers.
- Daniel Ingram Brown (PhD) – Exploring adoption through creative writing and participatory research
- Jeanne Dickinson (PhD) - An Exploration into the Impact of Dramatherapy Techniques with children aged 11-13 in a Guernsey Secondary School Drama Class
- Susan Rook (EdD) – Using drama to develop children’s reading comprehension
- Dobson, T. and R5: Stephenson, L. (2017) Primary Pupils’ Creative Writing: Enacting Identities in a Community of Writers. Literacy. 51(3), pp.162-168
- Stephenson, L and Dobson, T (2020). Releasing the Socio-Imagination: Children’s voices on Creativity, Capability and Mental Wellbeing. Support for Learning. 35(4)
- Dobson, T., Stephenson, L. and De Arede, A. (2019). Disrupting aetonormativity: involving children in the writing of literature for publication. English in Education, pp.1-16
- Dobson, T. and Stephenson, L. (2019) “I think it fits in”: Using Process Drama to Promote Agentic Writing with Primary School Children. Literacy. 53(2), pp.69-76
- Dobson, T., and Stephenson, L. (2018) Challenging boundaries to cross: primary teachers exploring drama pedagogy for creative writing with theatre educators in the landscape of performativity. Professional Development in Education
- Stephenson, L (4.7.21) Rewilding curriculum through drama: Affective stories of creativity-struggle-wellbeing. UKLA International Conference (online)
- Stephenson, L, Daniels A, Storey, V (3.7.21) Reimagining Home and Saving Anksi: An online/offline story weave with children during Covid-19. UKLA International Conference (online)
- Stephenson, L, Dobson, T, Sanches De Arede (3.7.21) Story Makers Press: Using Drama and Creative Writing to create culturally relevant literacy practices with children. UKLA International Conference (online)
- Stephenson, L, Hollis, M, Daniels A, Sanches De Arede, A and Sawka, V (18/19.11.20) Saving Anski, Making Anski The making of our online story experience Being Human Festival (online)
- Stephenson, L (17.10.20) Co-creating Stories with Children: Story Makers Press. Diverse Educators (online).
- Stephenson, L (20.06.20) Amplifying pupil voice through story. Brew Ed Arts Global (online)
- Stephenson, L. and Dobson, T (9.11.20) Co-creating Stories with Children: Story Makers Press. School Education Gateway ERASMUS+ (online).
- Stephenson, L (2021) Creative Spaces for Wellbeing. The Emotional Curriculum Podcast
- Stephenson, L. (24.05.21) Immersive Story Making with children during Covid. Wellbeing and Hope through story. United Kingdom Literacy Association Conversation Series
- Stephenson, L. and Chetty, D (14.09.2020) Race and children’s literature Talking Race Series
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