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Story Makers Company

Drama and Creative Writing Pedagogies for Young People

Re-engaging young people in learning through drama and creative writing; co-constructing and publishing fiction, with accompanying guides for teachers, which capture the voices of underrepresented groups of young people.

Drama and Creative Writing Pedagogies for Young People

The Challenge

As a result of testing and a prescriptive and technical national curriculum, young people are alienated from learning. Story Makers Company (SMC) aims to provide a space for teachers, artist educators and young people to engage meaningfully in learning through the promotion and development of creative pedagogies.

Minority ethnic groups are underrepresented in children’s literature. Story Makers Press (SMP) utilises creative pedagogies to co-construct stories with minority groups. The stories are published and accompanied by guides for teachers, which promote creativity and wellbeing.

The Approach

SMC works with schools and artist educators to develop and articulate creative pedagogies which engage young people. This is organized through the Story Makers’ Hub, which identifies funding opportunities and helps artist educators and teachers engage in research. Activities have involved:

  • Drama and creative writing residencies with young people
  • Teacher development projects in schools
  • A series of working papers
  • An annual Festival

SMP works with specific schools and young people to provide drama and creative writing workshops which leads to the co-construction of stories. The young people are from underrepresented groups - the resulting story is published alongside a guide for teachers. This activity has involved collaboration with:

  • Four diverse schools, their teachers and young people
  • Experts in different aspects of childhood
  • Sensitivity readers from minority groups

I find it easier to write once we’ve done the drama. I think it’s easier once you’ve seen what everyone else has done it gives you more ideas than just sitting down.

The Impact

SMC has worked with a number of primary schools, providing children with meaningful and creative learning experiences. This has: improved engagement; contributed to positive wellbeing; improved writing across the curriculum.

SMC received funding from the UKLA to work with artist educators to develop teachers’ creative practice in a primary school. This led to the school becoming a Literacy Hub for Bradford. Now, 100 schools across Bradford are benefitting from creative pedagogies.

SMC has published a number of working papers which have helped teachers and artist educators to undertake research and secure funding.

SMP has published three children’s books with associated teachers’ guides. For the young people directly involved, this has: given them a voice; raised aspirations; given them an insight into publishing. For the young people and children working with the books and guides, this has: provided interesting fiction to read; lead to creative engagement; promoted positive wellbeing.

It provided teachers with excellent CPD for using drama inside the classroom. This had an immediate impact on children's levels of engagement, enjoyment and creativity, as well as giving them ownership of their writing…the model of action research that we used while working with Lisa and Tom; we have been able to replicate this in school when introducing new ways of teaching.

Outputs

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.

Dobson, T., Stephenson, L. (08.11.19) Story Makers Press: involving children in the writing and publishing of children’s literature. National Association of Writers in Education, York, 2019.

Dobson, T., Stephenson, L., and Sanches De Arede, A. (10.09.19) Pursuing the ‘might’ in aetonormativity: involving children in the writing and publishing of children’s literature. British Education Research Association International Conference 2019.

Dobson, T., Stephenson, L., and Sanches De Arede, A. (13.07.19) Seeing themselves in books: involving children in the writing and publishing of children’s literature. United Kingdom Literacy Association International Conference 2019.

Dobson, T. (08.06.19) Seeing themselves in books: involving children in the writing and publishing of children’s literature. Story Rebels: A New Type of Hero. Story Makers Company, Leeds Beckett University.

Cremin, T., Eyres, I., Dobson, T., & Stephenson, L. (08.07.2018) Exploring writer identity and communities of writers. United Kingdom Literacy Association International Conference, Cardiff.

Stephenson, L., (08.06.19) The Nightmare Catcher: Co creating stories with children Story Rebels: A New Type of Hero. Story Makers Company, Leeds Beckett University.

Stephenson, L. and Dobson, T., Stories from The Wall: Using Process Drama to Promote Agentic Writing with Primary School Children. (08.07.2018) United Kingdom Literacy Association Conference, Cardiff.

Stephenson, L. and Dobson, T (17.06.2017) Drama & Creative Writing: Developing Curious Learners, Reclaiming Pedagogy, Northern Rocks, Leeds Beckett University.

Stephenson, L. & Dobson, T., (13.07.19) Releasing the Socio-Imagination: Children’s voices on Creativity, Capability and Mental Wellbeing. United Kingdom Literacy Association International Conference 2019.

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