I'm Sophie. I have lots of experience working with young people on all things to do with debating; speaking, listening, thinking, debating, arguing, the lot!
Whilst studying at the University of Leeds, I competed in national and international debating competitions, where I developed my love of quick thinking, and clear argumentation. Since then, I have worked with people aged 5 to 80, encouraging them to speak, think, and listen. This has mainly been through philosophy classes and tutoring debating. I also teach stand up comedy. I firmly believe in the transformative power of spoken words. Especially if they're a little bit funny.
I am looking forward to working with you all - speak soon!
Charlie is an actor, improviser and teacher. A leading actor with the Australian Shakespeare Company and recognised as “a master of improvisation... a leading force in Melbourne’s improvised comedy world” (Herald Sun), Charlie moved to London to complete his MA in Acting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Since graduating, Charlie has been endorsed by Arts Council England for the Global Talent visa and performs across the UK with Impromptu Shakespeare, teaches improvisation with the Nursery, and acts and directs for Inventive Productions’ series of immersive experiences. Charlie has taught for Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art, the Australian Shakespeare Company’s Young Bards, 16th Street Actors Studio’s Youth Program, the Victorian School of Performing Arts, the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts and The Improv Conspiracy Training Centre.
“Charlie is stupidly talented – quick, smart, with acting chops and an infectious joy. He’s a pleasure to workshop with and super fun to play with.” Cale Bain (Managing Director, Improv Theatre Sydney; Improv Director, Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia)
My role at GIFT is to make sure there is a great range of courses and lecturers across the overall programme we offer, to host most of the residential courses and to develop what we do and bring it to new GIFTers and schools.
At the grammar school I went to, the policy for gifted children was that you were at a grammar school so you should think yourself lucky! I got bored and left in the 6th form to teach myself A Levels, before reading philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
After running various businesses including a firework shop, I taught English at secondary schools. At Sutton Grammar, I developed my teaching passions: philosophy, outdoor adventure and gifted education.
I started working at GIFT seven years ago. I have found, as do the GIFTers, that it’s a place I’m surrounded by people just as enthusiastic and interested in ideas as me. The magic is that even though the people and places change, it always feels like GIFT. I’m very proud to be leading the partnership that will carry on the great work of the last 40 years, providing gifted youngsters with somewhere they can relax and be themselves and engage with all sorts of interesting people and subjects.
As well as GIFT, I am “The Philosophy Man”, writing resources, training teachers and running pupil workshops in Philosophy for Children. I also run an outdoor education company, Outspark, providing DofE expeditions and camping trips. My hobbies are hillwalking, rock scrambling, caving and improvised theatre. I live on a narrowboat in Cambridge.
Ruth Stanway Woodings, Course Coordinator, Parent of Gifted Children
Hello, mine is the voice you're likely to hear if you phone GIFT.
I have two gifted children - one in mainstream school and one home educated. My eldest was introduced to GIFT by Potential Plus UK several years ago and we've been passionate advocates ever since. I've been working with Jason since 2017 to support the GIFTers we have and to reach out to the ones we haven't met yet.
I didn't have a great time at school - I was always in trouble for asking questions or staring out of the window. The headmaster wrote in my leaver's report that I had "a cavalier attitude." Fortunately I was able to bumble through until university, when someone (a properly bearded professor) sat me down and explained that some people have brains that work a bit differently - sometimes faster, often taking a different route to a conclusion, able to link ideas that other people might not connect.
I wish I had known this stuff as a child and had the peer network that GIFT gives these kids.
I've worked in theatre, in corporate strategy, business intelligence, with dementia patients, on international conferences, for famous newspaper, in the energy sector, as a lobbyist in a Whitehall office, for a giant PR firm, for a tiny charity....and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!