Our next cluster gathering in Wellington is coming up soon!

What: An opportunity to meet like minded teachers with an interest in dramatic inquiry, and get some informal PLD. This time as requested we will run through a process drama based on a picture book.

When: 16th December from 3.30 pm – 5.30pm. Don’t worry if you’re a little late – we’ll be pleased to see you whenever you arrive!

Where: St Theresa’s school in Plimmerton. Apparently some people had trouble with GPS playing up last time, so here are directions –

St Theresa’s School, 1 James Street, Plimmerton. From Wellington pass St Theresa’s Church and take the 3rd exit at the roundabout. From North, turn left at Plimmerton roundabout just before Palmers Garden Centre.

What to bring: A friend! As always, cluster meetings are free of charge but please email Pauline at the school if you are keen to attend: pauline-maclean@st-theresas.school.nz

These sessions are always great fun… looking forward to seeing Wellington colleagues again and hearing what you have been up to in your classrooms.

Ka kite – Viv

We’ve had some really buzzy cluster meetings in Wellington this year and this is set to continue with our next get together at Eastern Hutt School on Monday 21st October (from 4pm).

We’ll continue with our exploration of Mantle of the Expert planning and probably learn a few new drama conventions too. This is an informal opportunity to chat about dramatic inquiry, ask questions and meet others who are giving it a go in their classrooms.

Cluster groups are free of charge and everyone is welcome. If you can, bring a plate to contribute to afternoon tea (if that’s too hard, no worries – just turn up!) Whether you are an experienced practitioner or an interested beginner, this is an opportunity to join like-minded colleagues for an enjoyable experience of ako.

Please email Sue Fennell if you’re planning to attend:


A reminder to colleagues in Wellington that we have our next cluster meeting coming up soon. Details are as follows. Many thanks to Pauline MacLean and colleagues at St Theresa’s Catholic school who have offered to host this time round.

When: 30th April 4pm onwards

Where: St Theresa’s school, James St, Plimmerton, Porirua 5026

What: An informal gathering for anyone with an interest in Dramatic Inquiry (Play, Process drama, Mantle of the Expert etc). A chance to meet / reconnect with likeminded teachers, ask questions, share stories and explore new drama conventions and planning tools to try in your classroom. We had a great turnout for the previous cluster meeting so let’s hope we see similar interest this time round.

Cost: Only your time

RSVP: Please email Pauline on pauline-maclean@st-theresas.school.nz so we can get an idea of numbers.

All welcome – bring a friend.

Are you a NZ secondary teacher using – or interested in using – dramatic inquiry (Mantle of the Expert / process drama / drama for learning / rolling role) in your teaching?

You’re invited to sign up for a short series of live online meetups where colleagues will discuss the issues, challenges and rewards of using drama in the secondary classroom.

UPDATE: Dates for these meetups have been changed since the original announcement. You’re still very welcome to attend. Please email mantleoftheexpertnz@gmail.com and ask for the time of the next meetup.

Teachers in Auckland region are reminded that our next cluster meeting is coming up soon – 1st Feb. Thanks to Lindsay, Claire and the staff of Bayswater school who are our hosts this time round. If you’ve never attended a cluster meeting before – haere mai – everyone is welcome! No need to RSVP – just come along if you can.

These friendly gatherings are a great way to meet like-minded teachers, share stories and pick up some ideas for your classroom. No cost other than your time. This meeting will focus on planning: We’ll look at the process Robin K followed in adapting a wide-ranging ‘inquiry’ unit plan into her first full blown mantle. She’s very excited about the results and, luckily for us, she’s happy to share. Come and learn more!

Where: 183/181 Bayswater Ave, Bayswater, Auckland 0622

When: Fri 1st Feb, 3.30 -5.30 (don’t worry about the start time … whenever you can get there through traffic is fine!)

If you attended the last Auckland cluster meeting, you’ll already be aware of the next one, coming up on Thursday 15th November from 4.30pm in room N313 at the University of Auckland’s Epsom campus. 

If you didn’t make it last time, but would like to come – please do!

The meeting will be an opportunity to share stories, get some free Professional Development and connect with a great bunch of colleagues – from those who are new to dramatic inquiry to more experienced practitioners.

Please bring stories from your classroom, half formed plans, any questions and, if you can – a friend.

See you there.

It’s a busy time for cluster meetings. As well as the Gisborne get together on Tuesday, we have two others coming up in Wellington and Auckland. Dates and times are below.

This is the first ever cluster meeting in Wellington and the first for some time in Auckland – how great to see this level of interest in our main centres! As with all our cluster gatherings, the meetings are suitable for all educators from early childhood, primary, intermediate, secondary, tertiary or community settings and whether you are an absolute beginner or an experienced practitioner. There’s no charge, just an opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn more about dramatic inquiry, including Mantle of the Expert, in a low key way.

Bring your questions, bring half-formed planning, bring stories from your classroom, bring an interested colleague or just bring yourself! We’ll share resources and ideas and discuss possibilities for future networking and professional development.

Big thanks to the hosts and organisers of these cluster meetings.


  • Where: Auckland University (Epsom campus) Room to be confirmed by email.
  • When: Wednesday 12th September 4.30pm to 6pm
  • RSVP: Please email mantleoftheexpertnz@gmail.com


  • Where: Eastern Hutt School, 53, Kings Cresc, Lower Hutt 5010
  • When: Wednesday 17th October 3.30pm to 5.30pm
  • RSVP: Please email Sue Fennell at the school sfennell@easternhutt.school.nz

By the way, don’t worry if you can’t make it right on time …  we realise some will need to travel … just join us when you can.




Kia Ora colleagues

Apologies for sending two messages in quick succession but I really want to let you know about the cluster meeting coming up in Gisborne later in August

[If you are based in Wellington and Auckland, watch this space as there are cluster meetings coming up for you in September and October – details to follow]

If you’ve never attended a cluster meeting, these are a great way to meet other teachers with an interest in dramatic inquiry. It’s not a formal workshop and there’s no cost other than your time. We sit down together over a cup of tea and share stories of our classroom experiences. We can also revisit planning, share resources and answer any questions. Cluster groups have been running on and off over many years around the country and they are a great way to learn and share in a low key way.

We’ve had a really good turnout at workshops in Gizzie lately so hope we will get a few colleagues along to this event. Big thanks to Michelle and Makaraka school for hosting us.

Where: Makaraka School, Gisborne
When: Tuesday 28th August at 5pm
What to bring:  Bring some food to share if you can plus any questions or planning (and a friend!)
RSVP: Please email Michelle Hall at michelle.hall@makaraka.school.nz 

Nga mihi,
Viv Aitken

Here’s some information about two professional development opportunities coming up in the Waikato & Bay of Plenty.  The first is an informal get together suitable for beginners and those looking for planning ideas and support. The other is a full weekend of professional development for more advanced practitioners, with the amazing Tim Taylor from the UK (author of ‘Beginners Guide to Mantle of the Expert’).

If you’re someone who has been dying to dig deeper into Mantle of the Expert – whether as a beginner or as an experienced teacher looking for that next step in your journey – there is something here for you.

22 May 2018: Bay of Plenty Cluster meeting at Omokoroa Point School, 37 Hamurana Rd, Omokoroa 3114.  3.30pm-5.30pm ish. No charge. Just bring your questions and planning ideas and something to share for afternoon tea. To register attendance or find out more please contact Stephan Hall on shall@omokoroapoint.school.nz  

9-10 July 2018: Mantle of the Expert Winter school with Viv Aitken and Tim Taylor to be held at Institute of Professional Development, Waikato University, Hamilton. Limited places available. This workshop will not be advertised to the public and is suitable for teachers and school leaders with some experience in planning and implementing Mantle of the Expert. Cost is $400. More information on the attached flier or contact iplworkshops@waikato.ac.nz. Enrolment is here http://iplworkshops.ac.nz/workshops/?course_id=5716

Winter School Final

Some time ago I was invited to write a chapter for a book on University-school partnerships. I had never really thought of our activities as being worthy of academic attention, but I was tickled to be asked and I wrote the chapter – with help from a bunch of other people including Delia Baskerville, Renee Downey, Stephen Hall, Jon Jenner, Robin Kermode, Jodie Moore, Sophie Stevenson, Gaenor Stoate and Carrie Swanson…

After quite a few delays, the book finally came out in October last year. I’ve been given permission to share our chapter on this website… and you’ll find it here . Big thanks to those who helped with comments and input.

P.S. I nearly called the chapter “It’s not what we’re teaching, it’s how we’re teaching!” which was a bit of a catchphrase for the ‘Mantle Underground’ in the early days… but as you’ll see I went with something a bit more conventional in the end. Enjoy!