ICEnet Featured Member – Nikky Smedley, UK

Dear ICEnet members

ICEnet is a community full of fascinating and inspiring people, stories, experiences, successes and aspirations. As it would be a pity for them to stay unnoticed, we have decided to feature every now and then ICEnet members whose work might give you something to think about.

So, without further ado, let us introduce to you…


Nikky Smedley


Who is Nikky?

Dancer, storyteller, puppeteer, actress, creative agent, choreographer, educationalist, director, Pilates instructor – this and a lot more describes Nikky Smedley from England, with her experience in and passion for theatre, communication and education.


What is her experience in creative education?

Nikky’s role as a creative educationalist developed through several years of working as a Creative Agent, delivering the (former) flagship UK government Creative Partnerships programme for the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Area (Cre8us) – in infant, primary, secondary and special school settings. She brokered relationships with artists and consultants to work in partnership with the whole school community, acting as a 'critical friend' helping schools explore creativity and pupil ownership. Within Creative Partnerships, she also used movement, storytelling, puppeteering, creative play, visual arts and media as part of her role as a Creative Practitioner in schools. Six years of working within Creative Partnerships led to further work as an Independent Consultant, continuing co-operation with school senior management teams on recruitment procedures, evaluation and planning frameworks, curriculum development, and creative teaching and learning techniques. More independent work followed, such as mentoring, creative consultancy, sitting on advisory panels and conference speaking. 

Though the Creative Partnerships programme is not running in the UK any more, Nikky has continued with creative education work as part of changing cultures, a collective of five professionals who help clients in education, the arts and cultural sector and creative industries. She works across the board, helping clients to see things from a different perspective; open up their thinking; find ways to achieve more; inspire progress; and evaluate past to inform the future.

changing cultures still adhere to the central Creative Partnerships ethos, with a belief in the value of genuine student voice and the use of creative thinking and doing to engage children in school, and life. Whether through the performing arts; individual teacher support; environmental development; or consultation with senior leadership; what Nikky brings from her time with Creative Partnerships is a complete commitment to enabling young people to inspire and direct their own learning experiences, under skilled adult guidance. She strives to engender in children a lifelong enthusiasm for learning and personal development, and knows the crucial role that confidence in their own ability to think creatively and support for their own ideas and ways of doing things can play in this.

What else has she done and achieved?

She toured the UK, Europe and the Middle East as Artistic Director of her own physical theatre company for sixteen years. She was afterwards cast as Laa Laa, the famous yellow Teletubby. A further decade in children’s broadcast television followed and saw her producing, directing, choreographing, performing, writing, devising, marketing and merchandising. Her artistic work led to two Digital Dance Awards, a Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award and a BAFTA nomination.

Work in education has not been confined to the UK – she has taught in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria too – as well as creating, directing and hosting live events for children in the USA.

Nikky is currently Director of Communications at changing cultures (working closely with another ICEnet member, Nicola Richardson), as well as being The Storyteller (or Professor Smedley of Storytelling!) in schools and at cultural events and venues, and is also a Senior Business Coach and Pilates and Postural Instructor.

For more information about Nikky and her work, visit:


We talked to Nikky about her experience of working with children within creative education and about useful tips to know

Here are some extracts:

“No young person likes to feel patronised or talked down to – I try to treat children in the way I would like to be treated myself.”

“I am constantly humbled by what children are capable of when you give them the opportunity to figure things out for themselves.”

“Be a real human being. Children always report back that their favourite lessons are those conducted by educators who aren’t afraid to reveal something of their true selves.”

To read the full interview, please follow this link or open the pdf version.


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