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  • Drew Rowlands

    Drew Rowlands

Drew Rowlands

Chair

5 bits of advice to my teenage self…

  • Do not fear failure - see it as valuable learning

  • Dream big because the reality will nearly always end up being smaller

  • Experience as much as you possibly can because it's only by doing so that your passions and strengths are revealed

  • Make connections between your passions and strengths and employment opportunities; that way you will spend your life doing what you love and it never really feels like work!

  • Be creative! There are endless ways to make the most out of life, which are only limited by your imagination

About me

As a teenager…

I’d been quite a shy child who enjoyed escaping into my own imagination, playing for hours and hours with my action men, toy soldiers and Captain Scarlet figurines. However, at 13 I started high school (having gone to a middle school) and discovered Drama. I was lucky enough to have an inspirational teacher in Mrs Eaves who instilled in me a love of performing as well as a passion for all things theatrical. Unfortunately, this interest did not extend to most of my other subjects where my tendency towards performance resulted in me entertaining my classmates through my role as a class clown. The education regime had the last laugh though as I ended up failing all of my exams at the age of 16, which gave me the kick up the backside I needed and the impetus to actually focus. I eventually managed to achieve a number of ‘O’ Levels and ‘A’ Levels.

After school…

When I was in 6th Form, I set up a theatre company with a friend and several teachers, which ran for a number of years after I’d left school. We were called Makeshift Mummers and specialised in medieval theatre, touring stately homes, National Trust sites and we were the resident theatre company at the Liverpool International Garden Festival in the early 1980s. We also performed in the Chester Mystery Cycle and were the focus of a BBC documentary. I was also successful at gaining a place in the National and Manchester Youth Theatres, which led to a number of successful auditions and professional performance opportunities. However, having completed a run of a play in London, the parts dried up and I ended up returning to Liverpool to complete a degree. I continued to act with Makeshift Mummers and had a number of unsuccessful auditions in my final year. I therefore ended up training as a teacher; realising that the sense of satisfaction that one felt when you taught a good lesson was very similar to the feeling one had when you gave a good performance.

Ironically, at my very first parents evening, a year 7 boy told me he had an agent and fixed me up with an appointment! I therefore spent a number of years being able to combine teaching and acting as I had understanding Headteachers who gave me time off to audition and do small pieces of work. However, as I moved up the ladder becoming a Head of Department, Head of Faculty, Local Authority Advisor and then Assistant and Deputy Headteacher, the acting had to take a back seat. However, in 2006 I was asked to become part of a group who had discovered links between Shakespeare and the town of Prescot, which is on the outskirts of Liverpool. I have spent the last 14 years as a trustee and 3 years as Chair of Education with Shakespeare North bringing to fruition, a vision to build a unique and authentic theatre in the town that will help drive regeneration, raise aspirations and inspire young people near and far. The theatre is due to open in the autumn of 2022.

My last role in education was as Principal of a though school (primary and secondary) in Dubai. Unfortunately, the week I arrived I found out my father in Law was terminally ill. To cut a long story short, I returned to the UK and cared for him until he died. During this time he told me about his life growing up in Liverpool during World War 2, which was fascinating and very funny so I decided to write it as a fictionalised novel. Tales of an Ordinary Man was published in 2014. I am currently working on the second novel, which sees him doing his National Service and ending up fighting in the Korean War.

Now I’m…

I have recently retired as Deputy CEO; having spent 7 years at an organisation called IVE (Formally known as CapeUK) in Leeds. CapeUK began life as a research and development Agency focused on exploring creativity and the impact it has on learning. Between 1997 and 2010 they were global thought leaders on the topic; producing evidence and reports that had a significant impact on both my teaching and my leadership in schools. In 2012 they became Arts Council England’s Bridge Organisation for Yorkshire and the Humber a role they continue to play. Upon my arrival in 2014, I realised there were 17 years or so of knowledge and evidence regarding creativity, leadership and learning that remained on bookshelves and obscure web pages. I quickly decided to set about translating this past learning into tangible training programmes, which organisations and businesses would pay for. I therefore ended up leading the commercial arm of the organisation known as ‘Innovative’ and have delivered programmes across the country and across a number of sectors including education, the police, army, engineering, nuclear power, health and Technology. I continue to work with IVE as a freelance consultant.
In addition to Shakespeare North, I’ve a good deal of governance experience having been Chair of Members of a Multi-Academy Trust in Bradford, a founding trustee and Vice Chair of Governors of a Free School in Leeds and Governor of a primary school in Warrington.
As well as writing, I intend to fill my retirement with other passions including a return to acting, my daughter’s new puppy who I dog sit for several times a week and of course, my involvement with the fantastic organisation that is E2M!