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Meet the partners: Leeds Beckett University

Dr Lisa Stephenson and Dr Tom Dobson from Leeds Beckett University are the project leads for arted and they are supported by their colleague Ana Sanches De Arêde.


Lisa’s teaching and research relates to drama and creativities. Her approach to teaching drama focuses on creating imagination spaces where children are challenged to negotiate and build democratic, fictional futures, on their own terms. Within these fictional worlds, children’s voice is represented through creative writing, art, sound and physical bodies as they make stories together. For her PhD, Lisa explored children’s (aged 10-11) perceptions of using drama and story making processes across two years. The findings demonstrate the ways in which children were able to create a sense of belonging, purpose, agency and community through storying. Her research findings present a model of critical thinking and emotional literacy which is linked to wellbeing and 21st Century learning. Lisa is the founder and director of Story Makers Company, a practice-research based centre which champions creative learning to empower marginalised groups. Lisa has co-created stories with diverse children for The Story Makers Press, writing accompanying teacher’s curriculum guides which explore complex issues raised within books through drama. Her current work explores the use of digital story making as a pedagogy and curriculum of radical care during covid. She works nationally with a range of artist educators and teachers.

Tom’s teaching and research relates to creative writing. His approach to teaching creative writing is to promote choice and voice for young people in the establishment of a writing community where everyone, including the adults, feels safe to write. For his PhD, Tom established a 2-year writing community with 10-12-year-old boys and explored the importance of the boys bringing their identities into their writing. As the writing community took hold, Tom observed how the writers in the community influenced each other, sharing ideas to create hybrid texts, as well as how this gave the boys opportunities to transform their identities and reject stereotypical performances of masculinity. Working alongside Lisa and Ana in Story Makers Press, it has been a privilege for Tom to have had the opportunity to write hybrid stories with young people who do not usually feature in children’s literature. The vibrant originality of the imaginations of the young people brings a refreshing dimension to these novels as adults’ perceptions of normality are actively disrupted.


Ana’s background is in book publishing and she’s particularly interested in inclusive representation in children’s literature. Since joining Story Makers Company as Press Publisher, Ana has worked to promote and develop young people’s voice and creative expression across a range of projects.



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