Story, a super powerful learning tool

Kate Shelley

Once upon a time there was a teacher Kate. She worked in London in many early years management and advisory roles. From Locality Lead for Play in Children’s Centres, Early Years Coordinator in Primary School to Deputy Head in a Nursery School.

In the areas where she worked, Kate noticed lots of children entered school low in language, confidence, creativity and social skills.
Kate searched for a problem to this solution. She created Tales Toolkit, a super powerful learning gizmo! Developed over time, in schools, winning many awards and linking with Goldmiths University to prove maximum impact. And with little planning for teachers so everyone did live happily ever after!

Winner Teach First Award 2015/16, Teach First Community Choice Award
Winner of UnLtd Do it and Grow it awards
Judge for National Creative Learning Awards

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Schools UK wide are struggling with the same issues -children entering school with low levels of language and lacking social and emotional skills. Why is this? It’s all about the quality of the interactions happening for children in their early years. This is currently a hot topic and a focus area for the DfE.

The power of story has been long recognised and researched – and Goldsmiths University of London have found one particular storytelling resource to be making a big difference to schools.

Tales Toolkit puts quality interactions at the heart of everything they do. Created by an ex deputy head teacher while working in some of the most deprived areas of London, Tales Toolkit uses story, a powerful learning gizmo, to engage children. All resources are labelled with easily recognised symbols for Character, setting, problem and solution giving the children skills to independently weave magical tales. Stories are created using anything to hand from a picture of Mum or favourite toy to a conker. Once children are confident storytellers there are lots of resources to get them writing their tales.

Being symbol based all children can easily understand and remember the story structure, even those not yet reading or speaking English. And – you’re going to like this bit – because Tales Toolkit is led by the children there’s little or no planning involved.

Schools that sign up are provided with a package of physical resources along with a year’s subscription to online training for all staff. With the budget crisis, schools are commenting that training provided in this way, where all staff are trained with no need for supply costs, helps them provide the CPD that’s much needed.

One headteacher commented ‘All staff, new and experienced, have embraced Tales Toolkit with real enthusiasm and we are reaping the benefits from our equally enthusiastic children. Our children are talking more, confidently telling creative stories as well as engaging in mark making earlier than we usually see it. A real strength is the quality of the training materials which bring together a wealth of sound practice in an accessible and supportive format which you can watch again and again, and we have!’

Stockport, Rochdale and Oxfordshire boroughs have invested local authority money to provide Tales Toolkit for schools in their area. Some of their schools were involved in the research from Goldsmiths which found Tales Toolkit made a significant impact made to children’s language and communication, social skills, literacy and creativity. Schools using Tales Toolkit closed the gender gap in literacy by 62% while control schools saw the gap widen by 22%.

Tales Toolkit while mainly UK based, is now being used in over 200 schools in 12 countries. Winning a number of awards from Teach First, UnLtd, Teach Early Years and Nursery World.

To find out more, read case studies from schools and join their free to attend webinars with top education experts visit their website or drop an email to [email protected]

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