Gillian Twaite, the company’s Artistic Director is an experienced Drama Education Practitioner and with a MA in Drama, Education & Cultural Studies from Warwick University (1997).
She has worked as a visiting Theatre in Education/ Drama lecturer both in the Uk and Abroad (including a 6 week residency with Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1997)
In 2004 She was awarded a BEAF Legacy Award to develop her writing for children and young people
In 2007 she was awarded The Black Country Creative Practitioner of the Year Award for her work in Black Country Creative Partnership Schools.
In 2009 She was awarded a Leading Edge Practitioners Bursary by Bright Space (Birmingham Creative Partnerships)
In July 2011 she was won the ‘Black Country Creative Partnerships ‘Ringmaster’ Award’ for being an Inspiring Creative Practitioner.
What we offer
We are happy to work with your school or college in a range of ways. We can create bespoke sessions or days to fit your curriculum needs; deliver sessions from the range of existing packages; or in collaboration with other arts or education funders develop new work in collaboration with your staff/ students.
We also run INSET . All our workshop leaders are CRB checked and are experienced in working in educational settings.
Previous work includes:
- A six month project working alongside a number of KS1 & 2 teachers developing ‘out of the box’ thinking to develop drama and creativity at Mapledene School, Birmingham
- A term long project working with Lunchtime Supervisor to develop a ‘creative play’ corner of the playground at Stow Heath Infants, Wolverhampton.
- Working alongside a Visual Artist to develop the potential of the outside classroon using drama and storytelling at George Dixon Primary and Holly Hill Infant Schools
- Working with a musician (in collaboration with Symphony Hall) to create an audio storybook of ‘Yashka and the Witch’ with Priestly Smith Junior School
- Birmingham Hippodrome Summer School (working with an animator) to re create Mary Poppins on film with a group of 8 – 14 year olds.
- A play in a day as part of an Arts Week for Myton School, Warwick
Woodlands Infants School, Shirley 2009 – 11
In the Spring of 2009, Gillian worked alongside Foundation Two teachers to develop a drama based problem solving maths project using the stories that would be an integral part of the Early Years Curriculum. They used the stories of the Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Gingerbread Man as stimulus and the project finished with a problem solving family day; where parents come and tried out a range of maths based activities led by their children.
Gillian returned to the school in the Autumn of 2009 to work with the Nursery department to explore the story of ‘Rama and Sita’ as part of their Diwali week celebrations.
(Different storytelling styles)
This project included the use of a range of drama strategies and both projects utilised the outdoor creative space.
(Mrs. Beaton, who made the Gingerbread Man, discussing portions of cake and the cost of biscuits with a couple of customers – Reception maths – problem solving project 2009)
Between the Spring of 2010 and the Summer of 2011 Gillian worked with Year 1 staff to implement the new whole school approach to teaching and learning. She worked alongside teachers to support planning meetings as well as an artist for a WOW factor to deepen learning. During this time the year group developed links with a school in Nepal and created a theme about Everest which the children loved. The first time this was in the Summer term and Gillian came in (or rather was ‘discovered’ with her climbing equipment in the computer room ) as an experienced walker who was about to climb Mt Everest but didn’t know anything about the terrain/ country. The children shared their knowledge with her then when she was let down by her fellow climbers (’outbreak’ of chicken pox!) offered to come along with her ” We’ve come dressed for a climb of our own today so we are prepared’”.
It was the hottest day of the year but the groups ‘flew to Nepal’ ‘climbed to base camp’ and ‘avoided the Yetti’ before reaching the summit.
The project was so successful that it was included in the planning for the year 2010/11 but was moved to the Autumn term. This time the weather was more appropriate and the tent in the school grounds was more for warmth than shade. Also, teaching assistants were enabled to be a more central part of the process and the theme was developed further as the two classes worked together on a ‘Mantle of the Expert’ project where the children learned the various skills needed to rescue a climber. Of course there was a ‘rescue’ and the children took charge in various roles from helicoptor pilots to medics. In the spring term Year 1 looked at China and Inventions and Gillian took on the high status role of ‘the Jade Emperor’ who came to the school to answer the letters of complaint that the children had sent him/her! The two projects culminated in a whole year visit to Think Tank (Science Museum) where the children helped the Jade Emperor to understand a range of inventions (as well as creating their own).
Devonshire Infant School, Smethwick 2007 – 2011
This is an ongoing Creative Partnership which started in the Summer term 2007 when Gillian worked with 3 classes of Reception Children and their teachers. She worked with the same group of children as they passed through year 1 & 2, supporting the whole school approach to develop their imagination, their storytelling, speaking and listening and writing skills.
Most recently (Summer term 2011) Gillian has worked with Reception and Year One. Year One were looking at Africa whilst Reception were travelling through time and space on their ‘flying carpet’. The school had a new outdoor interactive space developed during their CP journey and this was used to develop story-ing with this year group.
(Reception entering the time portal – Summer 2011)
Sharron Philpot (Head Teacher) wrote the following testimonial in 2009:
“Staff and pupils at Devonshire Infant School, Smethwick have worked with Gillian Twaite for the past 2 years as a Creative Partner through our Creative Partnerships work. Staff and pupils love her sessions, she has made a huge impact on our school! Our initial theme was role play to develop language and young children’s writing and Gillian came and worked with staff during an INSET and then planed a series of sessions with each year grioup to develop role play and drama in our curriculum. She dressed up a pirate, stranded on a desert island and children loved explaining to her where she was, what to do and how she may escape!”
“The following year she became an Alien landing at Devonshire Infants wanting to know all about Earth! Through Gillian’s creative, innovative idea children became Space cadets, training to go into space – managing to cover a whole half term’s science objectives in 3 sessions! The children came alive – it was noticeable that the quietest, most shy children became confident, eager to speak to the ‘alien’. Children who find concentration difficult became engrossed and could recount verbally the whole session and say what they had learned! This has had an enormous impact on our school. Staff are now confident to plan role pay and drama activities across the curriculum, and are regularly seen ‘in role’ – one member of staff even donning a large paper bag to become The Paper Bag Princess!!
This year we are focusing on Storytelling, and once again through an INSET day, Gillian has made staff enthused and eager to try her ideas! Gillian has a knack of making things look so easy! Staff are not afraid to have a go, and because Gillian tailors ideas directly to our needs, thinking carefully about curriculum as well as the age and ability of our children the project make an immediate impact on pupils and staff alike!”
The school nominated Gillian Twaite for the Inspiring Creative Practitioner Award in 2011 saying that she had “inspired confidence” in the staff and had helped them to change their approach to writing.
Starbank Primary School Birmingham 2009
Gillian worked with a Year 5 class in the Spring of 2009 on a project which drew together the term curriculum themes (rivers, the environment, stories from other cultures). She and the class teacher worked together to develop a scheme of work which used interactive learning and challenged the children to work in a range of groups, research, debate, respond to and eventually perform. The story was a true one – that of the poisoning of the rivers in Japan by an industrial company resulting in death, illness and disability; the Minemata Bay Tragedy.
The class explored this challenging subject by finding out about Japan in the last century, becoming the people in the fishing village and debating the issues both in and out of role. The project finished with a promenade performance in the Eco Park. Alongside this project a film company worked with Year 3 ‘on the making of the performance’.
See Arts Council Website for article about the project
Other past work documented
In 2006 Gillian worked with New Invention Infant School on their Enquiry School project. After an initial INSET for all staff, she worked for a term with Reception and a term with Year 2 staff and pupils.
This included developing a literacy based topic using the Jolly Postman, a visit to Kenilworth Castle (and an interaction with the gardeners ‘daughter’ at the time of Queen Elizabeths visit) and the Year 2 Castle end of year perfomances. The school nominated Gillian for the Black Country Creative Practitioner of the Year Award in 2007 which she won.
This article outlines the journey that New Invention Infant School went on in its first year as a Creative Partnership School and the role of the Drama Practitioner