Research into Storytelling Schools Model released

cropped front cover of Storytelling School Handbook

Storytelling Boosts Literacy Education Progress in Deprived London Borough

(A link to the full report is provided at the bottom of the article.)

The University of Winchester has launched Jonathan Rooke’s report into the impact of a two year research project on an innovative approach to teaching literacy through storytelling. Building on students’ natural desire to listen to and speak about what matters to them, the Storytelling Schools approach has resulted in pupils making above average progress in literacy.

The University of Winchester evaluated the programme which was developed with 10 primary schools in the Poplar partnership in Tower Hamlets. This is the third poorest borough in London and seventh poorest in the whole country. The results have shown that the intervention by Storytelling Schools contributed to literacy levels above the national average for schools more likely to fall in the bottom 10% of attainment.

This breakthrough represents a genuine intervention that works.  Considering that the schools have high levels of children entitled to claim free school meals and pupils whose first language at home is not English, storytelling offers a life-changing literacy learning opportunity for children growing up in poverty in the school system.

The schools taking part in the research programme transformed their entire curriculums to embed the Storytelling Schools approach across the whole school. This saw teachers training children to tell stories from heart as a way of learning language and subject content together. What is particularly important is that literacy progress has been achieved for both genders, presenting important messages about creating a level playing field for boys’ attainment.

Headteacher Dee Bleach, of Mayflower Primary School which participated in the programme,  “Our staff have embraced storytelling because it’s a fun and effective way to teach the structure of stories and non-fiction. Children know what to write about. We’ve all become storytellers.”

The programme is led by  educator  Chris Smith PhD.

 “We are delighted to discover the significant impact our training programme for these schools has had on pupil progress.  Storytelling is natural way of learning.  Our species is hard-wired to hear and retell stories orally.  The Storytelling Schools approach builds on this natural aptitude, which we all have, to embed it into a system of learning into the curriculum.  This is significant progress for pupils who are at the hard end of the education system, where progress has traditionally been marred by child poverty.”

Each school developed a storytelling curriculum with a set of stories to be learned and retold for each year group as a springboard for literacy and topic learning. This might be a traditional story like Jack and the Beanstalk, or topic stories like the great fire of London.

The London Storytelling Schools project was a 2-year research project run by Storytelling Schools in partnership with The Story Museum, with funding from SHINE, the Schroder Charitable Trust, The Peter Minet Trust, The Drapers’ Charitable Fund and an anonymous Foundation. The project was delivered in collaboration with the Poplar partnership, a small charity established to fund early intervention projects in the Poplar community with the aim of addressing some of the issues that face children growing up in an area of socio-economic deprivation.

More about Storytelling Schools here…

Read the full report here…

Buy the books here and here