All things MakeBelieve Arts – The latest from the team!

What’s been going on at MakeBelieve Arts the past year?

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in General News, Project News | 0 comments

What has been going on at MakeBelieve Arts the past year, I hear you cry.
Well we are pleased to say that we’ve been able to sum it all up in this short video!

… And there is lots more to come!

Read More

Helicopter Starter Training: In London and Kent

Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in Courses, Teacher Courses, Workshop Leader Courses | 0 comments

Working in Early Years? Interested in becoming a Helicopter Starter? On Wednesday 12th February 2014, MakeBelieve Arts are running a day of Helicopter Technique of Storytelling and Story Acting Starter Training in two locations!

Where: Beecroft Garden Primary School, London

or Kemsley Primary Academy, Kent

When: Wednesday 12th February 2014, 9.30am—3.00pm


The Helicopter Technique…

  • Develops confidence, curiosity, concentration and communication skills in all children regardless of ability
  • Increases turn taking, attention span, speaking and listening skills and awareness of written language
  • Demonstrates spectacular and measurable gains in spoken narrative and language development skills even for pupils with SEN or EAL
  • Provides practitioners with evidence of children’s progress in language and communication

Helicopter Starter Training includes an introduction to Storytelling and Story Acting and the practical application.

Helicopter Starter Training is suitable for anyone engaged with working with children between the ages of 18 months-7 years old, including Early Years and Foundation Stage practitioners, speech and language specialists, SENCO’s, Childminders, teaching assistants, playgroup staff and students.

‘The course was perfect, I loved it. I would love to do more training on this project … It has really made me feel that I want to take it back and do this in my setting.’
Teacher at Old Church Nursery School

Full day training: ONLY £35 pp.

Full day training + Resource Pack: £45 pp.

Full day training + Resource Pack + Women Who Cooked Everything Book: £50 pp.

For more information and to book call MakeBelieve Arts on 020 8691 3803

or email


CLICK HERE for more information on the Helcopter Technique.

Read More

MakeBelieve Arts Kent is 1!

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Across the UK, General News | 0 comments

Officially MakeBelieve Arts Kent was one on 9th September 2013, but our story starts on a cold dark February day in 2012 when Trish and I first spoke the words MakeBelieve Arts, Kent, Satellite…
First came the Open University Evaluation in the Summer term, Trish wanted to give the evaluation breadth and asked if I had a Kent school that would be happy to be part of the OU Evaluation, and so little by little MakeBelieve Arts Kent began to grow.


After a fantastic meeting with Early Years advisor and ECAT (Every Child a Talker) Consultant Julie Simmons, MakeBelieve Arts Kent was awarded its first funding pot to deliver a conference for all Early Years Practitioners in maintained nursery settings across Kent including 6 weeks of follow up sessions in 18 of those settings.
Then came Phase Two of the project which was the Royal Opera House (ROH) Bridge fund a ‘Helicopter at Home’ pilot where parents could be trained to use the technique at home, encouraging their children to tell stories with them as well as at nursery.  This took place in seven of the 18 settings worked with previously in the ECAT funding.

© ROH Paul Starr (1)
Part of the ROH Bridge funding paid for a conference for Early Years practitioners in maintained settings in the borough of Thurrock. After an enthusiastic response on the phone, Thurrock Borough Council sat round the table with ROH Bridge and MakeBelieve Arts.  Following the conference MakeBelieve Arts will deliver the Helicopter Project to 19 Early Years Settings across Thurrock during the Autumn and Spring Terms.

Images by MakeBelieve Arts and ROH/Paul Starr

Read More

Starting “BIG SCHOOL”

Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 in Project News | 0 comments

I am currently doing work experience with MakeBelieve Arts. They have given me the opportunity to shadow different on-going projects. Last week I visited an early year’s transition session at Quaggy Children’s Centre in Lewisham. Early year’s transition is a project which allows young children coming from nursery settings and parents to prepare for their new school as they start reception. This allows parents to help support their children explore their concerns and worries

There are small activities which relates to what you do before school and in school. For example we mimed getting ready for school in the morning; I think this is a good way for children to remember what to do in the morning because sometimes they tend to forget. We also became “feeling detectives” this is where everyone had to show what certain emotions looked like for example, when you are exited your mouth would be slightly open and you would be smiling. This is a useful game to play as the kids can learn about facial expressions and what someone is feeling.

Tamsin (the transition doll) is a tool used to prepare the children for primary school. Tamsin is also going to primary school this year however she is quite shy and doesn’t know many other children starting big school. By making Tamsin shy this allows the children to comfort her. This process teaches children to become friends and to be nice to other people who don’t feel as comfortable as they do. Tamsin is also a role model because she is already prepared for “Big school” she has her bag ready with all the things she needs, pencil, rubber, lunchbox, book, etc. she also has her uniform on. We are asked to help pack Tamsin’s lunchbox, everyone had to put something in it even though there where quite a bit of ice-cream from the kids, the parents put in the more healthy and realistic type of foods. This lets the kids know more or less what to expect in their lunch box. By the end Tamsin starts to become more confident and excited about “big school” whilst her doubts disappear. This boots the children’s confidence on a subconscious level, and if they were shy they no longer will be.

I think this is a great and easy way for young children to become comfortable with their new school and to make new friends. The small activities help them remember what to do before they go to school such as packing their bag, getting dressed.

To find out more about early year’s transition please CLICK HERE.

Read More

Helicopter Technique Evaluation: The Launch

Posted by on Jun 27, 2013 in Project News | 0 comments

On Friday 14th June 2013 we launched the Helicopter Technique, Open University Evaluation at Chisenhale Primary School in Tower Hamlets.

At MakeBelieve Arts we are great believers in the importance of ritual so the event was a celebration, complete with speeches, demonstrations of the work with children and cake.

The event was a huge success and we received lots of positive feedback from the attendees.

There were speeches from Trisha Lee, MakeBelieve Arts Artistic Director; Linda Pound, MakeBelieve Arts consultant; Teresa Cremin, Professor of Education (Literacy) at the Open University and Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham.

The first ‘Helicopter Technique Centre of Excellence’ plaque was presented by Teresa Cremin who led the OU team in delivering the evaluation and they were all very excited and pleased to become the first centre of excellence. As a Center of Excellence, Chisenhale will continue to deliver weekly Helicopter sessions. They will also be happy to host visits from other schools who are interested in seeing the work.

Alongside demonstrations of the technique, throughout the event, we made history by carrying out the first ever storytelling and story acting session across two continents.  We were joined by Boston, USA through a SKYPE link with a Kindergarten classroom, who are using storytelling and story acting on a regular basis. During this SKYPE session we not only demonstrated how the technique works but how it can engage and connect children, using technology, across the world at the same time. Children from both Chisenhale and Boston acted out stories and one story was read which crossed continents as one of the characters, at Chisenhale, acted out passing treasure to another, in Boston, through the screen…


Once upon a time there was Spiderman and there was Hulk and then Superman came.

And then they found a treasure. Then they put it in the bat cave and then Superman

took the treasure out of the bat cave and gave it to Batman. Batman was taking it

in to the Master. Then the Master gave it to the Queen who

put it in the locker so no-one can get it.

The photo below is from Boston, capturing the moment when this pass was made.

There was laughter, surprise and even tears from the attendees as the cross-country demonstration took place.


The whole evaluation is now available to download here:


If you would like to see/download all of the images taken, please see our flickr page:


[slickr-flickr tag=”HelEval”]

Read More

Times of Transition begins

Posted by on Apr 25, 2013 in Project News, Transition | 0 comments

Our Moving On Up Project Coordinator, Lucy Foster is well and trully settled in to the role and the 3 year tranisition project: Times of Transition, funded by Paul Hamlyn, has begun.

Times of Transition is an innovative approach that uses creativity and blogging to offer sustained support for young people throughout their move to secondary school.  Over the duration of the project we will be working with a secondary school and their partner primaries in London, Kent and Bristol.

We are pleased to announce that we will be working with London school, Prendergast Ladywell Fields College and Kent school High Weald Academy over the 3 years. The Bristol school will be announced this time next year.

Every young person has a story to tell about starting secondary school, so we’ve set up a new Times of Transition blog where pupils from schools in London and Kent use ‘how to guides’, ‘top tips’, films, podcasts, and more to share their experiences of Year 7. CLICK HERE to have a look at what they’ve been up to and feel free to comment and share your story too!

Don’t forget, there is still time to book one our transition programmes for Early Years, Year 6’s and near intake Year 7’s. CLICK HERE to find out how we can support the big move.

Read More

Helicopter is landing!

Posted by on Apr 25, 2013 in Project News | 0 comments

A year and a half ago Esmée Fairbairn Foundation funded a robust evaluation of the Helicopter Technique of Storytelling and Story Acting, based on the work of Vivian Gussin Paley…

MakeBelieve Arts then commissioned a team of researchers from the Open University to deliver the evaluation. The team, led by Teresa Cremin, have been busy observing the programme, interviewing teachers and children, and reading through the MakeBelieve Arts Helicopter Archive and now finally, after all this time, the Helicopter Evaluation is ready to launch on Friday 14th June 2013!

We will be celebrating the launch in many different ways:

The 193 page evaluation will be ready to download from our website at 5.30pm on that day. If you prefer a more summarised version the 193 page Executive Summary will also be available to download from this time.

But that is not all. At MakeBelieve Arts we are great believers in the value of rituals and we plan to mark this occasion with a celebration.

In the afternoon of the 14th June we will launch this report in Chisenhale Primary school, Tower Hamlets. We will be joined at the launch with Boston, USA through a SKYPE link with a Kindergarten classroom who are using storytelling and story acting on a regular basis and are planning to deliver a live Helicopter Technique session across two continents where children from both schools will get the chance to act out stories and share their thoughts on storytelling and story acting.

The link to Boston started in January 2013, when Trisha Lee was invited to work alongside the Boston Listens programme supporting them in the development of their city wide storytelling and story acting programme. At a Boston Listens Seminar Trish shared her thoughts about a number of issues. These were then captured in several video clips. Please CLICK HERE to view them.

As part of the launch we will also be announcing Chisenhale Primary School as our first MakeBelieve Arts Helicopter Technique Centre of Excellence.  We hope to develop more Centres of Excellence over the coming year, where schools that are regularly using storytelling and story acting are able to share the benefits of the approach with neighbouring schools.

And finally all attendees at the launch will receive an evaluation pack containing case studies, links between the Helicopter Technique and the new EYFS, and an Executive Summary all contained in a beautifully designed folder.

There are limited places still available at the launch and if you would like to attend please CLICK HERE to contact us and we will do our best to fit you in.

Also if you would like to receive either the evaluation pack, a hard copy of the full report, or just the executive summary, do get in touch. We have limited numbers of these, but we will do our best to send one to you. Alternatively the executive summary and full report are available to download from HERE from 5.30pm on June 14th.

Read More

Exciting news for the Boys Project…

Posted by on Apr 25, 2013 in Project News | 0 comments

We started the term with a spring in our step when we heard the very exciting news that The Ironmongers’ Company, who have supported the Boys Literacy Project for the last 3 years, want to continue to fund the project into its fourth year!

We’re so thrilled to be able to further develop the project further, allowing us to explore other digital possibilities and innovative ways to engage boys in literacy.
This term the boys are working on a book by Damian Dibben called The History Keepers, which has been recommended to us by our friends at Random House Publishers who we’ve partnered with on this project. The boy’s will not only get the opportunity to investigate this brilliant time traveling tale, but they’ll be meeting Damian personally when he comes into the last session this term to celebrate the end of this year’s project!

Take a look at their stories…and why not even comment on them while you’re there?! To access the boys blog CLICK HERE.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to The Ironmongers’ Company for supporting our project, long may it continue!

Read More

Helicopter at Home

Posted by on Apr 25, 2013 in Project News | 0 comments

The Family Learning Project, funded by the Royal Opera House Bridge, started this term, in Kent. The project will train parents how to use the Helicopter Technique of Storytelling and Story Acting at home.

Parents listen to their children’s stories, write them down, record them on their phones…

In Phase One funded by Every Child a Talker, MakeBelieve Arts worked with 18 nurseries across Kent, training the staff how to use the technique in their settings.

Phase Two sees MakeBelieve Arts working with the parents of those children, encouraging them to try out the technique at home. Eagar parents set off from sessions pen, paper and phone in hand in search of their children’s stories.

Read More

‘Real but Uncertain Threat*’ to the English education system

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in General News | 0 comments

February has been a rollercoaster month for the education system in England.

Peaks and troughs comprise the revision of the Government’s plan to reform the system, as their designs for the English Baccalaureate were all but abandoned, whilst proposals to introduce a new accountability system, the impact of which is yet to be determined, remain.

The English Baccalaureate or EBacc represented an overwhelmingly unpopular move which was opposed, seemingly, by anyone involved in education.

A revision of the current GCSE system, which spreads the workload over two years and across an expanse of subjects, was set to be replaced by a ‘two-tier’ scheme, which both highlighted the perceived insignificance of anything other than traditionally academic subjects and represented, potentially, a further divisive measure.

The EBacc raised immediate, widespread and well document concerns as a result of the lack of emphasis which it placed upon arts subjects; forcing creative and cultural skills even further out of the lime light.

The proposed system was also regarded as ‘an exam which would not be suitable for everyone’, according to the BBC News and which would represent, what the Conservative chairman of the Education Select Committee, Graham Stuart, referred to as a “badge of failure” to anyone who did not pass it, as no Foundation papers would have been on offer, as they are for GCSEs.

For further information please see

A metaphorical sigh of relief thus ensued as it was determined that GCSEs will remain.

Tension was not alleviated fully, however, as new school accountability measures or ‘League Tables’ are still to be introduced and GCSEs are yet to be reformed. The impact of these measures is uncertain as the scheme is under construction and so concern for the future of England’s cultural wealth and diversity remains strong.

Still teetering on the edge, therefore, it seems that the English education system may yet take another nose dive into chaos.  

Unsurprisingly, Michael Gove’s statement that “for the hon. Lady and for me, artistic and creative subjects are central to a broad and balanced education”, accompanied by his assertion that he will be working with the Arts Council have failed to way-lay fears for the future of arts and creative subjects. This is evidenced by Catherine Rose’s statement that “We mean real, rigorous, important and relevant knowledge and skills which result in understanding, creation and appreciation of a huge range of human endeavour, and which also offer social, intellectual, physical and personal benefits [may be obtained through arts education]’”; viewing the Education Secretary’s comments with cynicism, as she suggests there is a fundamental discrepancy in beliefs about the significance of creative and cultural studies.

Helen Musser, further, highlights this as she says ‘I have observed staff and students alike stare with open mouths as a ‘mouse’ in the core subjects turns into a maestro of movement in an improvisation situation’. Such a statement makes it clear that the journey is not yet over and the rollercoaster must spin on.

See for further information about the developments.

(*terminology taken from French terror threat measure)

Read More

Is gender important when it comes to teachers?

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Debate | 1 comment

The topic of gender and jobs has been an on-going debate for many years, most probably even as human life began. It is a well-known fact that teaching, especially in primary schools and early years, is seen, by the majority, as a female profession in the UK. So what’s new?

Well, a recent study by Nottingham Trent and Bedfordshire Universities show that this imbalance could be due to deeply ingrained gender stereotypes combined with fears that men will be falsely accused of child abuse or being seen as intimidating towards early years children. And these are the factors that are preventing men from joining the profession in the first place.

These gender stereotypes are down to early years being perceived as a nurturing stage and women being viewed as more nurturing than men.

There are some alarming figures that reveal a substantial 4,500 schools in England are staffed entirely by women and that men make up only 12 per cent of the primary school employees and 3 per cent of the early years workforce.

CLICK HERE to see what the Telegraph are saying about this.

So do we really need things to change?

A study this time last year showed that boys make less effort in classes taught by female teachers especially in their early years where they are lacking exposure to male role models. So it’s obvious that steps towards gender balanced teaching are needed.

CLICK HERE to read more on this study by the Mail.

We’d love to hear what you think, so have you say in the comment box below.

Read More

MakeBelieve Arts turns 11!

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in General News | 0 comments

On 02.02.13, it will have been a whole year since our 10th Anniversary celebrations, making MakeBelieve Arts 11 years old! And what a year it has been.

This time last year we were all rushing around preparing for the big ‘one-zero’; baking giant cakes, photocopying memory books into the night and rehearsing pieces with our Boys Literacy and John Roan 6th Form drama groups.

We were also asking the question, where next?

So, where has that journey taken us?

We’d like to take you all on a whistle-stop tour of our 11th year.

Our first ‘Where Next?’ was a decision to look for a UK patron, and on the 13th April 2012 Michael Rosen joined our esteemed American patron Vivian Gussin Paley. CLICK HERE to read all about it.

Just before our 10th Anniversary we found out we had secured the funding from Esmée Fairbairn, allowing us to undertake a robust evaluation the Helicopter Technique of Storytelling and Story Acting. The Open University have been working on the evaluation for the past year and we look forward to receiving it.

Over the Summer term, with funding from the Transformers Grant, MakeBelieve Arts channelled the energy and excitement of the Olympics to support vulnerable Year 6 pupils from 8 primary schools during their transition into secondary school.

Then on Tuesday 3rd July 2012, MakeBelieve Arts held an Olympic themed transition event at The John Roan Secondary School which was a fantastic success. CLICK HERE to read more.

The summer of 2012 was a holiday like no other. At a time when the team are usually reflecting on the year gone by and planning for the year ahead, MakeBelieve Arts undertook the mammoth task of delivering 4 back-to-back summer schools, supporting Year 6 pupils in the holiday before they moved on to secondary schools. CLICK HERE to find out more.

Throughout 2012, MakeBelieve Arts partnered with Crofton Park Community Library and Beecroft Garden Primary School to deliver 3 seasonal themed events. First was the Olympic Extravaganza on 18th July, second came the acclaimed Pumpkin Party on 31st October and finally the Christmas Cracker event on 12th December, which wrapped them all up nicely. We were overwhelmed with the fantastic feedback, as each event brought the community together and made the library come alive.

The winds of change blew through MakeBelieve Arts in September 2012. After 3 years, Alice Edwards (Creative Projects Coordinator) left MakeBelieve Arts in search of a new adventure. Pippa Taylor (Administrative Director) went on maternity leave and Laura Ratling (Administrative Director) joined the team.

Not wanting our premises to feel left out of all the change, MakeBelieve Arts expanded along the corridor at the Deptford Mission and became proud renters of the large room at the end of the hallway, aptly named The Lorax room.

“I meant no harm. I most truly did not. But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.” – the Once-ler.

Our Creative Associate team also developed at an exciting rate with 10 new creative associates joining the ranks in autumn 2012. CLICK HERE to view their profiles.

Our regular Boys Literacy and John Roan Sixth Form drama programmes have been developing too. We have started to partner up with The Random House Group for our Boys Literacy project and our John Roan Sixth Form performance (happening in March 2013) is set to be the most impressive yet. CLICK HERE to follow the Boy’s Literacy journey on our blog and watch this space for news and photos from the John Roan performance of DNA (book by Dennis Kelly).

Following on from 2011’s successful Giant Tours Creative Science programme, we were thrilled to get funding from Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust to transform the project into a First Theatre production. Booking the show began in July and it swiftly became a sell-out success. With our new First Theatre touring team which comprised actors: Emma Deakin, Paul Andrew, Serin Ibrahim and stage manager: Martyn Hutchinson and designer Ian Teague and musical director David Baird, Giant Tours toured to primary schools across London, Swindon, Kent, Bristol and Essex from October to December 2012. And this was to be the beginning of a new ‘Across the UK’ era for MakeBelieve Arts

After setting up our satellite areas in Kent, Bristol and Essex, just before our 10th Anniversary, there have been three main factors that have enabled us to gain UK-wide recognition in the past year; taking Giant Tours on-the-road, funding from the School for Social Entrepreneurs, as part of their Lloyds Bank Scale Up programme, and the Helicopter Technique taking off in Kent. Thanks to satellite coordinator Isla Hill winning a contract with the Kent Every Child a Talker programme, ECAT, the Helicopter Technique will be delivered within 18 nurseries across the county.

Amongst all this expansion and change, Trisha Lee, Founder and Artistic Director of MakeBelieve Arts joined the ranks of Independent Thinking, a leading company in its field which strives to make a lasting difference to school communities. Since joining back in October 2012, Trish has already been booked to deliver 8 keynote speeches and INSETs through ITL, across the UK.

Our last piece of exciting news, before the end of the year, was finding out we were successful in our bid to receive funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for a three year secondary transition programme, connecting three secondary schools from Lewisham, Kent and Bristol in a series of creative workshops, peer mentoring and blogging / digital media approaches.  Off the back of this we have employed our newest member of the team – Moving On Up Project Coordinator, Lucy Foster, who we are looking forward to welcoming in February.

Finally, if taking our work ‘Across the UK’ wasn’t enough, Trisha Lee has taken MakeBelieve Arts across the pond and is currently in the middle of a jam-packed three week schedule of conferences, school visits and meetings in New York and Boston. Follow her USA tales on this blog.

Phew! What a year. Now, how can we top that in our 12th year I hear you ask? Well, we already have an exciting programme ahead of us, including; Year 1 of the Paul Hamlyn transition programme, the Helicopter Technique’s chance to shine as the evaluation gets published, more ITL INSETs, Creative Approach to Mathematics weeks in Kent, Bristol and Essex, another season of Summer Schools and a digital twist to literacy bringing together schools in Kent and London, thanks to funding from Clore Duffield.

Read More

Three Weeks in America

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in Project News | 0 comments

As we begin to explore the full extent of what scaling up MakeBelieve Arts might look like, I am fortunate enough to be taking that question to America.

My journey begins in New York. I spent the morning in the 92nd street Y centre, an incredible cultural and community centre in the heart of Manhatten. The centre hosts a diversity of programs from dance, to music, to jewellery making with hundreds of workshops for children, adults and the elderly in a building that houses a 1000 seat theatre, dance studios, a soft play area and a full time nursery and kindergarten for children aged 2 – 5.

The Early Years provision is an innovation that began its life 60 years ago, after the Second World War, when a group of Jewish mothers who were refused childcare in various nurseries in New York, decided to set up their own provision. The Wonderplay programme that has evolved out of this is rich in creativity, with children as young as 3 years old, engaged in painting like Jackson Pollock, or building apartment blocks out of boxes, to explore the social emotional needs of the dolls they have made to live inside them.

The centre is rich with creative play, based on the Italian Reggio Approach; the children have the opportunity to shape their own curriculum asking questions that determine where the next stage of their learning takes place.

As American education battles with the restrictive Race to the Top education system of testing and result orientated teaching, it is refreshing to find an oasis where the value of learning through play is championed.

Leaving 92 Y, my journey in New York took me to the Blue School, a progressive centre in Lower Manhattan, for children from nursery (Pre K) through to Grade 5. The school has been made famous by Sir Ken Robinson, patron and advisor. Again following the Reggio Approach the school focuses on creative learning and has children asking questions and acting as co-collaborators deciding on the path of their study.

Interestingly this school was also set up by a group of parents, working together in 2006, they wanted to find a different kind of education for their children. Some of the fathers of these first group of children were the founders of the Blue Man Group and the schools name and much of it ethos around creativity arise from this.

Both schools were incredible. The walls filled with impressive works of art created by the children, the classrooms buzzing with child led enquiry, enthusiasm and energy from both teachers and children engaged with learning.

Both schools were set up by parents looking for a solution to the educational needs of their children.

And both schools were independent and funded in the majority through parental fees.

As I sit in my New York apartment, and think about what I have seen in the first few days of my American adventure, I have to ask myself how we can take the innovation and learning that both these centre’s demonstrate and ensure that it travels out into all our schools.

There is some excellent practice happening in many local authority schools in England, but as the Gove education reforms begin to bite, and schools are pressurised by testing regimes and forced Academy status, there is a real danger that innovation of this type will only be able to happen in the independent sectors, and that the Local Authority schools will be so constrained by the rigours of a national curriculum that puts Latin above creative learning, and that regards phonics as more important than the learning potential of children’s fantasy play, that true 21st century learning opportunities will only be possible in schools that opt out of this system.

What then for the majority of children forced back into a learning regime we hoped we had left behind in the 1950s?

We cannot allow this to happen…

92nd_St_Y_350_page.The Blue School

Read More

Spooky goings-on at Crofton Park Community Library…

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Project News | 1 comment

As the sun went down on 31st October 2012, the MakeBelieve Arts team gathered, once again, in Crofton Park Community Library for our acclaimed Pumpkin Party.

The party was the second in a series of three seasonally themed events, taking place as part of the partnership between MakeBelieve Arts, Beecroft Garden Primary and Crofton Park Community Library, and it followed the fantastic success of our Olympic themed event at the library in July 2012.

As the skies darkened, the team busily prepared the 150 pumpkins that had been kindly donated by Sainsbury’s, ensuring that each child had a hollowed-out pumpkin ready to carve upon arrival.

MakeBelieve Arts created a spooky scene, dressing the space with sinister props. We draped cobwebs amongst the bookshelves, hung beastly spiders and set up eerie ornaments, against a backdrop of haunting howls and horrible hollers.

As the clock struck six, members of the Crofton Park community, including pupils and staff from Beecroft Garden Primary and other local schools poured in through the open doors, eager to engage in the selection of spooky activities on offer.

Each child was offered a free pumpkin, on which they could design and carve their own creepy faces, with the help of an adult and child friendly carving tools. The pumpkins were then arranged outside with tea-lights in them; flickering eerily beneath the waning full moon.

Further festive delights included free hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, and face painting by our fantastically skilled face painter, Polly Thorpe, who transformed eager children into zombies, monsters and creepy dolls, so that the library was overrun by Halloween spooks.


Our Creative Associate and drama and music specialist, Cathy Walker, set up a camp in a corner of the library; involving community members in an interactive workshop. She staged and taught families how to produce their own shadow puppets, before engaging them in a musical game, in which participants collaborated to create a very real spooky soundscape.

The children then displayed their fancy dress outfits in a parade which took them around the library, and which made for a fantastically freakish finale to an evening of fabulous fun for all the family.

The event was, once again, an overwhelming success and MakeBelieve Arts are looking forward to returning to Crofton Park Community Library for our Christmas Cracker event on Friday 12th December 2012. And we can’t wait to see you there!

CLICK HERE to view the journey of getting the pumpkins from Sainsburys to the library.

View all the photos from the event HERE.


Images by MakeBelieve Arts

A special thank you to  for subsidising the 150 pumpkins

Read More

MakeBelieve Arts comes to KENT!

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Across the UK, Recruitment | 0 comments

Now recruiting freelance Creative Associates

MakeBelieve Arts is currently recruiting freelance workshop leaders to become part of our freelance pool of Creative Associates.

We have been based in London for the last 10 years and are now setting up a satellite of the company in Kent.

We are looking for workshop leaders from either a theatre/drama/music or visual arts background. Successful applicants will have experience of working with children and young people from a variety of age groups as well as a strong belief in the value and importance that the arts play in children’s education.

MakeBelieve Arts is an equal opportunities employer and we strive to ensure that our Creative Associates reflect the diverse ethnic backgrounds and gender balance of the classrooms we work in.

To apply

Please download and complete the Creative Associate application cover sheet and post with your CV and a passport sized photo to:

Isla Hill, Creative Projects Coordinator, 3 Down Farm Oasts, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 8HF

Please note: Email replies will not be considered

Deadline for receipt of applications 5.00pm, Wednesday 28th November 2012

We will be auditioning during December and January

Due to the overwhelming responses we have received in the past, we regret that we are unable to contact those applicants who have been unsuccessful.

Read More

Raise Funds For Free!

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in General News | 0 comments

Turn your online shopping into donations for MakeBelieve Arts and get a voucher of your choice, at no extra cost to yourself!

Do you shop online? Did you know that every time you buy something you could be raising money for MakeBelieve Arts? Not only does it not cost you a penny more but you will now get something in return for raising money for us. For every £50 you raise we will give you a £5 voucher of your choice and for every £100 you raise we will give you a £10 voucher of your choice.

Easy Fundraising is the easiest way to raise money for MakeBelieve Arts. Shop with any of over 3000 well known retailers listed on and a percentage of what you spend is passed to MakeBelieve Arts at no additional cost to you. Retailers include Amazon, M&S,, Vodafone, eBay, Tesco, Viking and many more. Please register to support us today -

You don’t even have to spend anything to start raising money for us. Some of their retailers will even make FREE donations just for switching to their service, participating in free trials or even simply registering on their site.

For example, netflix offer a £7.50 when you start a free trial while The National Lottery will donate £1.50 just for registering on their site and playing Lotto online for the first time! You can raise £4.50 by registering and making your first bid on ebay and LOVEFiLM offer a £5 donation when you sign up for a 14 day free trial of their dvd rental service.

You can raise over £200 without spending anything – visit and click on the FREE Donations page for more details.

How does it work?

It’s like nectar but instead of earning points, each purchase generates a donation. So instead of going directly to a retailer’s website, go to easyfundraising first and choose the retailer you want to shop with – then everything you spend with that retailer earns a free donation for MakeBelieve Arts.

On average, each retailer will donate 5% of the cost of your shopping – and those donations soon mount up.

So whatever you need to buy, from your weekly grocery shop or fashion must-have, to your travel, holidays, office supplies, Christmas presents or mobile phone, buy it via easyfundraising and raise money for MakeBelieve Arts at no extra cost to you!

You can also download a handy toolbar which informs you when you are on a site that offers a donation! Please download the toolbar here:

Please do let us know if you have any questions or when you think you have raised £50 or £100 by contacted us HERE and we can arrange a voucher to be sent.

Read More

Helicopter lands in Kent!

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Across the UK, Project News | 0 comments

MakeBelieve Arts Kent is striding forward in leaps and bounds.

We have recently won a contract with the Kent Every Child a Talker programme, ECAT that will see us delivering the Helicopter Technique to 18 nurseries across the county.

On Thursday 25th October we presented a full day conference in Maidstone to Early Years providers from across the borough, and we are beginning to make lots of contacts in both schools and settings.

Isla Hill (aka Tompsett) Creative Project Co-ordinator Kent, is now recruiting a freelance team of Creative Associates so that we are primed to meet the rising demand that is expected over the coming year. To apply please CLICK HERE. Watch this space…

Read More

School for Social Entrepreneurs

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Courses | 0 comments

Artistic Director Trisha Lee has recently been accepted by the School for Social Entrepreneurs as part of their Lloyds Bank Scale Up programme.

Over the coming year she will be meeting with other successful students/business owners over 12 sessions, exploring how to scale up a business.

The training is accompanied by a grant and is supporting MakeBelieve Arts in developing satellites across the UK.

We are already beginning to get success in Kent, and we will soon begin focusing on Bristol, Essex and Swindon to look at how we can increase the profile of our work in these areas. With Giant Tours already reaching schools across these four counties and workshops at a Deputy Head teacher’s conference in Essex, plus new connections with a secondary school in Bristol, we are optimistic that over 2013 MakeBelieve Arts can truly pride itself on being a company that works Across the UK.

Read More

Independent Thinking

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Conference, Courses | 0 comments

Trisha Lee, Founder and Artistic Director of MakeBelieve Arts has now joined the ranks of Independent Thinking, a leading company in its field that strives to make a lasting difference to school communities.

Trish kick started her new life as an Independent Thinker with the Big Day Out in Bristol a couple of weekends ago and now feels part of the family. To view her profile please CLICK HERE.

Independent Thinking has also teamed up with Teachology, the educational conference people to provide Intensive Day Programmes for teachers in March next year, up and down the country.

To find out more about the Creative Mathematics course Trish is presenting, as part of Independent Thinking’s intensive day programmes, please CLICK HERE.

Read More

School’s out for summer, but not for MakeBelieve Arts

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in Programmes for schools, Project News, Transition | 0 comments

This summer has been a holiday like no other. At a time the team are usually reflecting on the year gone by and plan for the year ahead, MakeBelieve Arts undertook the mammoth task of delivering 4 back-to-back summer schools.

Each summer school was two weeks long and comprised of Year 6’s about to be the new Year 7’s so became an excellent chance for children to get a head-start and make friends in their new secondary school.

Kick-starting August with John Roan summer school, followed by Knights Academy, Sydenham and lastly Prendergast Ladywell Fields College summer school.

“John Roan summer school was a fun friendly group of new Year 7s and pupils going into Year 8.  The group developed such a supportive bond that showed through at the presentation to their friends and family, each pupil getting a whoop and a cheer as they came to collect their certificates” said Alice Edwards, summer school coordinator.

John Roan summer school was packed full of activities with a day in the park, the sun on their side for football, rounder’s and a water fight – with Alice getting the wettest of all thanks to Paul! Appreciative cries of “man that’s sick” heard at the theatre.  A murder mystery extravaganza. Ghosts wandering the corridors, alibis coming thick and fast, our budding lawyer Rayan cracking the case and engrossed in making puppets for the day, proudly displaying their heroes and villains. To wrap up the two weeks there was a presentation day for family and friends.

At John Roan’s presentation day one girl, Lilly, said “on the first day we were scared but then we wanted to come back the next day, and the next and the next” and Lizzie on the river wade said “so in conclusion, although the weather was wet, we didn’t let it dampen our spirits”.

At the Sydenham summer school pupils loved making their own fashionable clothes out of rubbish (aptly renamed ‘trashion’) and the school hall was transformed into a catwalk on the last day (complete with lights!) as their original creations were showcased to an audience of family and friends.
The murder mystery was another favourite; with pupils questioning ‘who done it?’, the day long investigation caught their imaginations, with no clue going unlooked.
The pupils took up the creative challenges with energy and endless enthusiasm, and made a cohesive team along the way.

“Before we came to summer school we were nervous and thought we wouldn’t make any friends. Now that we’ve been here for 2 weeks, we’ve got to know one another, had a lot of fun and it’s given us a head start for when we start secondary school in September. We don’t want it to end!” said Fiona.

“We went on a lot of trips, like going to the theatre to see ‘The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe’ and we even went on a river wade! The wade was a lot of fun and we learnt about local nature, held a water scorpion and discovered other creepy crawlies! Even though it rained, we didn’t let it dampen our spirits!” said Lucy.

Prendergast Ladywell Fields worked with London 2012 Olympic ‘Shake the dust’ poet Paul Lyalls and created an incredible poem about life in London. To view the poem CLICK HERE.

Read More