October 13th, 2018
Today’s blog has been written by the lovely
Liz is the Early Years lead in one of the very first trial schools to use Tales Toolkit so has been part of our family from the start. We have lots of schools in Stockport using Tales Toolkit and many of these heard about us because of the wonderful work that Liz has been doing with her team. I’ve visited Cale Green Primary twice now and each time I go I’m excited to see the new ideas and the enthusiasm of the team. Super happy to have Liz and Cale Green members of the Tales Toolkit family and looking forward to hearing many more stories in the future.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of working at Cale Green Primary School for 16 years and have been the Early Years Leader for 12 years. I have taught in both Nursery, Reception and Year One during my time at the school and now teach one of our Nursery classes on a part-time (job share) basis.
In 2017, Ofsted recognised the hard work we do to create and maintain community cohesion, saying, “The treasure in your school is the strong sense of community. At your school, community cohesion is not an initiative from a past era but a living reality. It motivates everyone. As one pupil told me,‘even though we are all different we are treated the same. We are all special and unique.’ Pupils who come to this school are given the skills and confidence they need to be positive contributors to life and society in Britain today.”
Our families range from affluent, living in period properties, to socially deprived, and living in ‘over-crowded’ terraces. Within this context we also serve a community of families for whom English is an additional language.
Our school Tales Toolkit journey officially began in 2016, when we became one of the ‘trial’ schools for the resource. However, my journey began even before this, when I was made aware of Tales Toolkit through social media, and I started to follow its updates with great interest
As a ‘trial’ school we were required to undertake the training and feedback any relevant information regarding the training materials and the impact of the resources on a regular basis. It was quite a tricky job to organise staff meetings for the whole team to attend together (being an EYFS department within a Primary School, with a busy staff-meeting schedule and some part-time staff) but a flexible team and a Head teacher who recognised its’ importance meant that between us, we were able to schedule opportunities for teachers and teaching assistants to spend quality time together for the training over half a term.
This was important because whilst working together we were able to reflect, comment and be open with one another, sharing our experiences – what worked and what didn’t – and collectively work to meet the needs of our two Nursery and two Reception classes.
Early on, we agreed to some principles of quality interactions, and I have kept these principles at the forefront of everything I do when working with the children and staff.
One of the really profound things I learned from the training is that the three most important skills required to be successful in business are collaboration, communication and creativity. I have since observed and facilitated each of these skills in my Tales Toolkit sessions.
I feel we have a responsibility to educate our future business leaders,
so why not start while their young brains are developing so quickly?
Again, I had been interested in this approach having read about it on social media, and I had also been lucky enough to attend training with Anna herself. I just knew that it was the right approach for my cohort. In recognising the adult’s role in promoting child-led learning, enabling children to become deeply involved and make progress through the timely support of adults, children are able to make rapid progress. This approach seemed to me to fit well with the Tales Toolkit approach – allowing the child to take the lead in the learning. When we first introduced the resources to our classes our more ‘vocal’ and imaginative children provided most of the suggestions for story content.
This was fine because they created some really funny, silly stories which we were able to ‘bring alive’ with the addition of voice sounds, actions and repetition. Very quickly we found everyone (even the quietest EAL learners) were engaged and having fun. The structure of the story sessions meant that there was a safe, predictable environment in which everyone can get involved and have some fun. Even the most guarded children would join in with, “we need a solution!”
As we had hoped, we were seeing the benefits for children with EAL who, prior to this had not had the opportunity to join in vocally and share their ideas without the fear of, ‘getting it wrong.’
When we felt it was appropriate we introduced the mark-making resources. We modelled using story-strips, little lined books and postcards. The children have loved them! In our Reception classes especially we have observed a large increase in the number of boys wanting to write stories independently, either by creating their own or by retelling and representing those created in group sessions. We have modelled drawing and writing during our group sessions, so that children can see how their ideas can be represented.
I’m looking forward to hearing the amazing stories that our children will create, and to developing my own role as an Early Years professional in supporting all children, embracing their unique starting points and exploiting their potential as creative-story-tellers of today, and prospective business leaders of the future!