Simon has always been interested in students' mental health issues and emotional literacy. He brought about the Stories of Our Studies project with funding from the University to address these issues.
As a director of the School of Playback Theatre UK (SPTUK), Simon identified playback theatre as an effective way to bring students together face to face. He also teaches this method on PGCE Secondary Drama, as well as within an undergraduate module - Theatre for Social Change.
Simon formed a team of Education Studies and Film, Theatre and Television students to listen and re-enact, stories from audiences made up of their peers. This gives voice to student experiences within a safe environment.
" I wanted to bring students together in person, not over social media and get them interacting in a meaningful way. Even if attendees don't have their story acted out by the main team, the sessions are designed in a way that enable everybody in the audience to tell their story to someone in the room."
"Sometimes things can be difficult to verbalise and my job is to make this as easy as possible. My playback theatre team, being formed of students from the University, helps those who attend feel reassured by their peers."
In the future Simon would like to make Stories of Our Studies into a reflective practice-based module so that students not only feel empowered to share their stories but are able to think about the specific things that either cause them stress or create success, and come up with an action plan for addressing them going forward.