Andy Watson blogs for us about the Geese Theatre Company and their innovative approach to CPD and INSET for educational professionals working with Looked After Children.
An audience of 80 teaching professionals sit watching three short snapshots of 11 year old Liam’s life. They witness him: crying out as a baby and being ignored; sitting in his bedroom, aged 4, trying to distract himself from the violence which is occurring downstairs; meeting his new carers as he moves into his fourth temporary foster placement, age 8. Audience members are drawn into Liam’s world and into an understanding of how he experiences and survives that world. They are then invited into smaller groups to have rapid conversations about how those experiences might impact on his ability to engage with education.
At Geese Theatre Company we have worked within criminal justice and social welfare settings for the past 30 years. Originally known as a prison theatre company, our work now takes place in a host of custodial and community settings with a range of people who might be considered to have multiple and complex needs. Inevitably our prison work has brought us into contact with many people who have experienced difficult episodes in their childhoods, including those who have suffered abuse, trauma, multiple placements and disrupted education.
Over the years we have delivered a number of creative projects with young people who are Looked After – enabling them to explore their own stories through theatre, music and film. Increasingly we are being commissioned to work with professionals who are engaging with young people who might be considered disruptive or challenging – and as a consequence have developed Getting Connected – a half-day or day-long training event which works perfectly for school INSET days or for training a consortia of schools.
Getting Connected provides an insight into some of the key areas of research that underpins work with people who are vulnerable – primarily attachment theory, emotion coaching and the impact of trauma – and applies that research to working in a school environment. Many education professionals understand the basic principles of attachment theory but Getting Connected brings that theory to life in a visceral , relevant and immediate way, using a combination of interactive theatre performance and keynote presentations. Staff are provided with a greater understanding of how to make teaching, the school environment and intervention approaches more developmentally informed and effective .
“Our staff have literally been buzzing all day and haven’t stopped talking about how powerful your performances were. Thank you so much.”
Deputy Headteacher and Designated Teacher for LAC
Blog post by Andy Watson MBE, CEO and Artistic Director of the Geese Theatre Company. Andy was awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours List 2018 for Services to Arts in Criminal Justice.