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.
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 for children in the early years.
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 Tales Toolkit provide lots of resources and training to get children 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.
We know it’s tough in schools and there’s lots of top down pressure to meet targets and show progress. Tales Toolkit impact many areas of learning while following the children’s interests, creating opportunities for discussions and helping children become creative problem solvers and independent thinkers. There are no right or wrong answers. Tales Toolkit ticks lots of boxes – boys writing, language, creativity, social skills, but in an enjoyable, fun way loved by teachers and children alike.
And we have the data to prove it works. Research carried out by the Unit for School and Family Studies at Goldsmiths University of London found children using Tales Toolkit showed increased levels of literacy, communication and language, creativity and improved social-emotional skills typically around three months ahead of peers in classes not using the approach. All skills needed by children to successfully manage school environments and achieve academic success.
Boys using the scheme showed significant catch-up with girls in literacy and schools commented on boys’ higher levels of engagement. After a year, literacy scores showed boys learning with Tales Toolkit had closed the ‘literacy gap’ with girls by 62%. In the group not using Tales Toolkit, boys saw the literacy gap with girls widen by 22%.
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!’
Tales Toolkit have won numerous awards including the 3* Teach Early Years Award 2019 for Communication, Language and Literacy, two Gold* Awards from Nursery World for Prime Areas and Literacy and Teach First Innovation Award and UnLtd Awards for the difference made to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“A resource that enables children to articulate the stories that matter to them in a way that can be shared and understood is definitely worth having. Tales Toolkit is such a resource, giving children a simple but highly effective means of exploring, creating and telling the stories that are important to them.”
Alistair Bryce Clegg
Tales Toolkit offers a framework for supporting children’s first steps in making up stories
“We recommend Tales Toolkit to other schools in our teaching school alliance. We think it’s a really powerful approach to boosting the communication and imaginative play and we’re very comfortable with how it fits in with our overall early years ethos.”
Dr Julian Grenier
Tales Toolkit while mainly UK based, is now being used in over 200 schools in 12 countries. Stockport, Rochdale and Oxfordshire boroughs have invested local authority money to provide Tales Toolkit for schools in their area.