Inspirational tutor, Rachel, at Gifted Crafts Company, has 15 years of experience teaching at secondary school level. Now, from her stunning studio, in the Shropshire hills, Rachel inspires students to learn new and exciting crafts and also offers CPD (continued professional development) courses for teachers and school departments, to ensure they too can inspire creatives of the future.
We caught up with Rachel this week to learn more about what makes her tick, how she became such an inspirational tutor, how teachers might benefit from taking her CPD courses, and lots more. If you are a teacher looking for creative ways to inspire your teenage students, read on ...!
Q1. Hi Rachel, please introduce who you are, where you’re based, and a history of your background/education.
Hi CraftCourses, well I’m a teacher, Mum & campsite owner and my true love is crafting. My passion and professional goal, is to get everyone else addicted to craft too! I’m now lucky enough to live and work in the beautiful Shropshire Hills, surrounded by stunning countryside and amazing views.
For me it’s all about education, helping others to learn and learning new skills myself, to enjoy and share.
I studied graphics in university and trained to teach art & design, spending 15 years in secondary education. A few years into teaching I also trained and qualified in design technology, I went on to run the department.
I was determined to make strong links between art and DT and exploit the huge potential in both subject areas to give the students the broadest and most exciting creative opportunities.
Throughout my time in secondary, I felt passionate about 3 things:
o Exciting projects and opportunities to enable students to produce truly individual work, that they were proud of.
o Maintaining my own practice, as an artist and designer, to stay up to date, inspired and full of ideas.
o Getting inspired and stealing ideas from anywhere and everywhere and sharing that with colleagues and students (or you can call it 'sharing good practice' if you have to!)
A couple of years ago the opportunity presented itself to escape to the country, see more of my family and run workshops in my own little studio, so I couldn’t say no! I run everything from 3-hour beginner workshops to full week advanced courses and artist retreats. I know how spoilt I am but I do love to share it with as many people as possible.
Q2. What are your CPD courses and what topics do you cover?
My one-day CPD courses are designed completely around the needs of the teacher or department. Either in my studio or at their own school, we explore whatever specialism they have selected, while translating how the processes can be taken into the classroom. All of the workshops can be adapted for an art & design focus or a design technology specification. The courses available are pewter casting, bookbinding, enamelling, silver clay and sustainable art & design.
Q3. What is the goal of your CPD courses and who will benefit from the training?
The aim of my CPD courses is to provide 2 key results:
Most importantly, that the teacher has had a day to step away from the classroom, enjoy creating and get fired up.
Secondly, to ensure that all of the teachers leave with physical and digital resources, realistic but creative schemes of work, and as much of the admin completed already as possible (especially risk assessments and the like!).
I aim, to make it possible, to take a new skill straight into the classroom. There are so many exciting processes and materials in both art & design and design technology. These CPD courses encourage all staff, whatever their experience, to learn something new for their own personal development as an artist or designer and for the benefit of their students.
Q4. What inspired you to offer CPD workshops?
Over many years of running CPD within my own school, for other local schools and from going on courses myself, it was so clear to me what was needed. I attended many exciting skills courses during my time in secondary but often felt disappointed that I didn’t leave with the necessary teaching resources, which resulted in more work for me when I got back to school. In contrast the ‘drier’ CPD courses often provided the necessary paperwork and compliance but rarely gave me that buzz to rush back to school and get started!
I truly believe it is possible to deliver both enjoyable skill development and quality resources in one CPD course.
Q5. Do students need to do any preparation in advance of attending your workshops?
Once students have selected their specialism, there is no need to do any other preparation for the course. However, if students would like to discuss what they personally want to get out of the course before they arrive we can have an open dialogue enabling me to tailor the course to their needs.
Q6. Who/what is your source of inspiration creatively?
My collections, photographic archives and scrap books can only be described as eclectic! I try to draw inspiration from as many places and people as possible. However, there is a theme and that is the natural world, and its contrast with the man-made world. I often like to work in macro, finding beauty in intricate detail. I love to explore small independent artists as well as the more established ones. And a new process or material never fails to create a mini obsession!
Q7. What is the future for Gifted Crafts Company? Are there further training options once a student has completed your CPD workshops?
Through future expansion of my studio, and my courses I am very excited about what comes next for Gifted Crafts Co and my lovely students. I will be continuing to add more CPD options and look forward to welcoming students back after they have completed a course with me, for more advanced, skill development in their chosen specialism and to share their experiences.
Are you an art & design or DT teacher ready to get 'fired up?'