I like being in a storytelling school because…
who are we?
Chris Smith is a storyteller, workshop leader, musician
Chris is Director of storytellingschools.com and has been researching and developing the storytelling schools idea for the past ten years. He has run the Oxford Story Museum outreach programme since 2005.
Pie Corbett is a poet, author, educationalist and is a leading exponent of the use of storytelling in education. His methods are commonly used in schools throughout the country and beyond.
website: – www.piecorbett.org.uk
Adam Guillain – children’s author, storyteller and educationalist. Adam has worked with Chris on the Story Museum programme since 2007 as a trainer and mentor.
Nanette Stormont is Literacy coordinator at Pegasus, a storytelling school on the blackbird leys estate. Nanette works as a trainer, mentor and coach with schools who are adopting the storytelling schools model. She has developed detailed models for integrating storytelling into literacy learning.
what is a storytelling school?
The basic idea is simple: learning to tell stories from memory is a great way to learn all sorts of essential skills. Children who fill up with stories by listening and retelling create an inner store of language, ideas and imagination. They will then draw upon this store in their work and life. Speaking, listening, confidence, empathy, ideas, facts, sequences, plots …you name it, storytelling can probably teach it.
The storytelling school weaves this idea, systematically, into the process of learning. All students are taught a repertoire of stories for every year that they are in the school, linked up to their topics and literacy targets. In primary schools this is often planned out as one story every mini term from Foundation through to Year 6 so that students graduate with a repertoire of more than 40 stories.
These stories are linked into the school curriculum so that the tales can be used to generate ideas and enthusiasm for topic learning and literacy. Learning in this way has proved both enjoyable and effective for teachers and students alike. Howe to do this is explained in detail in the our storytelling schools teachers handbook
This handbook describes a revolutionary way of delivering primary education.
In a storytelling school all children learn to be storytellers retelling and improving stories from memory and graduating with the own repertoire stories to tell. Developed by educationalists, storytellers, authors, teachers and students, this approach is been shown to raise standards and fire imaginations in schools.
Chris Smith and Adam Guillain draw on years of experience as oral storytellers and educational consultants, and a highly successful pilot program in collaboration with the Story Museum, Oxford, to show you how to make this happen in your school.
Their clear, engaging and accessible text, supported by practical activities, examples, charts and diagrams, explains how to:
- tell stories to your class teacher class to retail the stories;
- develop and innovate on a learned story;
- links storytelling to improve writing standards;
- plan across the curriculum using the Storytelling School approach.
This invaluable resource for teachers contains photocopiable pages.
why be a storytelling school?
We believe that all children can benefit from developing their storytelling skills throughout their education. In schools where improving basic literacy levels is a priority the STS method has been used to quickly raise standards. Storytelling provides a natural way of filling students up with rich story language for them to recycle into their story making and writing. In this way attainment can rise quickly and be sustained. In other schools, where low literacy levels are not the main issue, the simple joy and magic of storytelling is seen as a crucial part of an all round education, a core skill for learning and sequencing ideas, a way of developing skills and confidence in speaking and performing, and a way of developing ideas about stories that enable high achievers to go further in their story making.
what kinds of stories?
Most Storytelling Schools start off with oral tradition stories, as they have evolved to be the most easily told. Once mastered storytelling techniques can then be applied to non fiction, literary stories, biography, history, and geography …to almost anything where there is a sequence to be learned.
After it has been learned as an oral story, most schools then link the story to their terms teaching goals. In literacy this will include shared and independent writing, innovation and invention, and non fiction teaching.
For other topics in history, geography and science the content of the story provides the basics for further topic deepening. Most teachers find the method provides a quick, efficient, engaging and enjoyable way to learn.
(Link to free downloads of curriculum maps: Pegasus, John Fisher, Wood Farm, Baynards, SSMJ, all downloadable
become a storytelling school
Most storytelling schools plan for one main story per mini term or six main stories per year. Once the stories have been learned the teacher normally links them to the teaching of literacy and a particular topic for that term. This means that in a storytelling school the way of planning and learning is restructured around the story. This is not normally an ‘add on’ to existing schemes, but a way of restructuring learning throughout the school often linking to existing topics in the curriculum.
Becoming a storytelling school usually involves:
- Selecting the stories to be learned
- Planning how teaching will fit around the stories
- Creating a set of resources for staff (stories, sample lessons, enrichment links)
- Consulting and convincing staff about the value of the approach
- Training and support to prepare teachers for adoption at launch
- Ongoing management and review of progress to adjust and adapt
Steps to becoming a storytelling School
a checklist of steps how to become a storytelling school (pdf document)
how much does it cost?
Some schools have become storytelling schools after simply attending a single two hour training session. In these schools the Headteacher and Literacy coordinator have taken the idea and applied it within the school, running their own training and staff meetings themselves. With the publication of the Storytelling Schools Teachers Handbook we hope that more schools will take on storytelling in this way.
However many schools have found that they need a bit more support than this to pass on the idea to their staff sustainably.
Often trainers and consultants are used to help plan the ST curriculum, to demonstrate various aspects of teaching storytelling, deepening links to writing and so forth. A typical package of support for a new school might include:
- one day assistance with planning
- one whole school inset day (launch)
- 1-3 twilight training sessions per year over two years
This can be a total cost of between £1000 and £5,000 for an individual school. Where training is offered to a group of schools then the cost is proportionally divided. Some schools also request class by class support to demonstrate teaching of storytelling in situ to help individual teachers get storytelling going with their students.
Ultimately how much support is needed depends on the demands of the intake, the training needs of the staff in the school, and the internal capacities and time available from senior staff in the school to offer direct training and supervision.
There are many ways to become a storytelling school. The general idea can be adapted to suit particular conditions and preferences. STS is not a blueprint but rather a set of tools and ideas to be applied in various ways. To be accredited as a storytelling school, the school needs to demonstrate that they are systematically teaching their students to be storytellers from years Foundation to Year 6 or Year 7-10 onwards within the secondary cycle.
Evidence normally required is:
- a copy of the schools storytelling curriculum (6 or more stories per year)
- evidence of plans linking storytelling to the wider school curriculum
- evidence of storytelling output for each year group in the school
- copy of storytelling school communications on the website
If you submit this material to storytellingschools.com then you will then be accredited as a Storytelling School. You will be linked into our national STS network, provided with a STS logo to use on your own materials and a certificate for display in your school.
The procedure is then renewed once every three years.
Training courses can be arranged with sts.com associates to help adopt the storytelling school approach.
These may be for individual schools, partnerships of schools, or public trainings open to any teachers.
Bronze, Silver and Gold Training:
Bronze Level – how to make your class a storytelling classroom.
Silver level – more depth on storytelling school methods.
Gold Level- Management and Training
In addition the following one day courses are available for schools and partnerships:
Storytelling and Story Deepening
Innovation and Invention
How to plan a whole school curriculum and school change strategy
Twilight trainings are also available.
Associates are also available for school visits to observe, mentor and demonstrate.
What Teachers Said About Their Storytelling Training
I was already a complete convert to the storytelling approach but following a move to a new school was struggling trying to pass on my enthusiasm. This training has given me the skills and knowledge to lead change across the school, inspiring the teachers and creating an exciting story-rich school environment.
Woodstock Primary, Oxfordshire
The training was very useful because it gave me an overall idea of where to take our school next. It taught me how to pass on my knowledge of storytelling to the rest of the staff so it becomes embedeed in our school
Mayflower Primary. Tower Hamlets London
The training has consolidated my understanding of lots of the key aspects of storytelling and given me a wide range of practical ideas to implement and embed storytelling in the school
Wood Farm Primary Oxford
The training pulls together all the elements of how to become a storytelling school. It is a fantastic opportunity to share success and challenges and to come away with fresh inspiration every time.
Our Ladies RC Primary, Tower Hamlets
A fantastic forum for embedding storytelling throughout the school. The process by which storytelling can be planned and implemented was clearly explained and shared with lots of practical examples of what storytelling looks like in practice. The resources were fantastic. I can’t wait to see the results back in the school
St Mary’s Primary, Chippenham
The Storytelling School: Handbook for Teachers Smith/Guillain
to order click here:
To hear Chris telling stories click here:
Ganesh Gets Married
Ganesh Gets Married
Honey and Trouble
Honey and Trouble
The Chicken and the Eagle
The Chicken and the Eagle
The Bird and the Forest Fir
The Bird and the Forest Fir
Three little pigs
To hear Adam telling stories…
Baba Yaga’s Black Geese
Baba Yaga’s Black Geese
and you can search for more stories on the Story Museum website
See Chris explain how to draw a story map
More about Storytelling schools:
To learn more about storytelling at Pegasus school click here:
Inside a Storytelling School:
Hear, Map, Step and Speak and Write at Pegasus School in Oxford 1, 2 and 3
more about us
Storytellingschools.com is non-profit company. Our mission is to encourage more storytelling schools because we believe it is a wonderful and much needed way to make schools more engaging and effective, especially in areas of social deprivation.
We are all experienced trainers and consultants and can provide training, planning and mentoring to schools wishing to adopt the storytelling model.