Be curious. Endlessly Curious. Go on asking questions. Never stop wondering why or how one thing links to another. How something changed. How one thing turned into another…Be curious.
— Michael Rosen, MakeBelieve Arts Patron

The annual Curiosity Conference is a Key Stage 2 storytelling event led by children, for children. Schools from across the country gather each year to share their most imaginative ideas in keynote presentations, asking life’s burning questions, such as: What if money didn’t exist? What if we could teleport? and What if animals kept humans as pets? The event gives children a chance to develop their presentation skills, improve their confidence and work with other children to really engage their curiosity. Participants will have the opportunity to present their curious stories through a variety of art forms such as drama, poetry, puppetry and music.

Curiosity in the Classroom

Instead of the usual conference in 2019 we decided with the schools and the Ironmongers’ Company’s input on a project called ‘Curiosity in the Classroom’. All the work for this was carried out at each individual school’s premises giving the children an experience of the Curiosity idea in the familiar surroundings of their own schools. With this new concept Year 5 pupils received three visits from MakeBelieve Arts as they did before but on the third visit this time they presented their Curiosities to their own school, to an invited audience of parents/carers, governors, teachers, press and pupils. It was a huge success and equipped with the experience of Curiosity in the Classroom everyone is looking forward to the conference returning to the Ironmongers’ Hall in 2020.

MakeBelieve Arts Artistic Director Trisha Lee’s welcome which was played at every event.

A flavour ot the eight mini-conferences

Here is a carousel of photos from the most recent conference at Ironmongers Hall in 2018...

Following on from the huge success of Curiosity: A Children's Conference in 2017, our funders  the Ironmongers' Foundation brought us back once again to work with pupils across the country in 2018.  Just like last year, an audience of curious minds gathered to listen to the most interesting insights from the keynotes speakers and visionaries of tomorrow. If you have ever thought, I wonder what would happen if? Then you'll probably find the answer here. This year the schools used film, animation, physical theatre and poetry in their curiosities.

The schools that participated this year were:

Bethany CE VA Junior School, Bournemouth,  who are saying Hello, here...

The Bishop's Church of England VA Primary, Thetford, who are greeting you here...

Emmaus Catholic and Church of England Primary School, Sheffield, who are saying, Hiya, here...

St. Andrews Benn C of E Primary School, Rugby, who are ready to start here...

St John’s Church of England Primary School, Durham, who are saying, see you there, here...

St Marys C of E Primary School, Brent, London, who are looking forward to the conference here...

St. Stephen’s Church of England Primary School, Lambeth, London, who are saying, hi, here...

As per 2017 this years conference took place over two days in March (14th and 15th) and was held once again at the amazing fairytale-like surroundings of the Ironmongers' Halls, the home of our funders, Shaftesbury Place, Barbican, London EC2Y 8AA

Here are...some of the films and curiosities from 2018's fantastic event...

Every curiosity was illustrated once again in real time by our real friend Jon Ralphs.

Keynote Inspiration

2018’s keynote inspiration for the conference will be author, Steve Voake.

Steve Voake grew up in Midsomer Norton, near Bath, Somerset. His early ambitions were to play football for England and to be a bomb disposal expert so that he could blow stuff up. His favourite pastime was racing home made go-carts (and crashing them) with his friends. When he left school he studied for a degree in philosophy, and sold ice-creams in the south of France before becoming a primary school teacher. He spent eight very happy years as headteacher of the 'Jack and Jill' school in Kilmersdon, Somerset. The original well from the nursery rhyme can still be found in the playground at the top of the hill. Since 2005 he has been writing full-time.

Dreamwalker was published in 2005. Steve says that he has always been fascinated by insects, but it wasn't until he was tracked and bitten by a horsefly that he got the idea for The Dreamwalker's Child.  The sequel, The Web of Fire, was published in the UK in 2006. His other novels include The Starlight Conspiracy, Daisy Dawson, Hooey Higgins, Maxwell Mutt, and Fightback. Plus the picture book Insect Detectives.

10 Steve Voake curiosities...

  1. He once threw dry ice into the sea to make smoke and sell more ice-creams.

  2. He had a guinea pig called Hammy because he thought it was a hamster.

  3. He won an award for Best Comedy Performance at Bath Drama Festival.

  4. His favourite animals are prairie dogs and meerkats (joint winners).

  5. He loves to play the guitar.

  6. His favourite colour is blue and he hates celery.

  7. He forgot to concentrate during a parachute jump and nearly landed in a river.

  8. He is the cousin of author/illustrator Charlotte Voake.

  9. He thinks peanut butter and banana sandwiches are a match made in heaven.

  10. He doesn't eat them very often because they would make him tubby.

See Steve's welcome message to the Curiosity 2018 schools below...

Steve Voake "Hello!" video