May 2012

I am pleased to say that my lack of update in this section is due to being busy. I think that is a good sign in this climate and so I won't feel bad about it!

Puppet sales are going very well. I worry that I will run out of puppets for sale quite regulary, but the time it takes to make a furry friend is getting quicker. My favourite part is when someone decides to buy one and they walk away looking so happy with their puppet. Feedback suggests that the dog puppets become special family members, or class companions to cherish for a long time. My new glove bugs are going down a treat too. The price of £4.95 each is making customers happy.

Workshops have been updated to include a stronger focus on story telling techniques due to demand. Even the social education based programmes are benefitting from using a similar fantastical approach. The magic of puppetry never ceases to amaze me. Through the fun and laughter, we reflect on some sensitive issues and in this way, the children can consider a different approach when facing problems in their life. Long term evaluation is tricky to prove, but I truly believe this style of working makes a positive difference.

By September this year, I plan to have my new venture The Hands-On Company up and running. Annette Cotterill retired from The Learning Through Action Trust at the end of January. I have taken over all the PSHE programmes and I am working with Melissa Waldron, the lead facilitator and a number of gap-year students. I say a number because we have a pool of them who join us around other work or travelling commitments. These workshops take me back to my earlier work as creative manager for the trust and I have enjoyed stepping in to facilitate secondary PSHE when Melissa has been unavailable.

The plan is this - by September I will run Pottytree Puppets and the LTA PSHE workshops all under the umbrella of The Hands-On Company. All workshops will be reorganised and updated where necessary. There will be two teams using puppetry and drama techniques to run interactive workshops. The philosophy at the heart of all the work remains the same - using drama and puppetry to explore PSHE issues.

Melissa has a passion to include teaching Shakespeare, holding drama-themed parties and injecting more hands-on elements to the workshops. I would like to see more puppetry across the curriculum and dream of creating a PSHE model that truly works across the diversity of schools we find ourselves in. If you feel you have any feedback that would help our planning, I would love to hear from you.

We have a new website to get us started if you fancy a peek. Hopefully by September I'll have more news about it all.