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Writing

Storytelling at Repton Manor Primary School

At Repton Manor Primary School we believe that English is a fundamental life skill. English develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding of spoken language and writing across a range of different situations. We have also just gained storytelling school status; this makes us the first storytelling school in Kent.

Why Storytelling?

The Talk for Writing programme was already embedded in our pedagogical practice, with great success. However, we felt it was time to develop this further. We wanted a similar approach which would go further and wider. That was when we discovered Storytelling Schools and the Storytelling Museum.

Storytelling: What is it like?

Those of you who know Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing programme will be familiar with its key messages and themes. You will have heard of practices such as ‘oral retelling’, ‘imitating’ and ‘innovating’ which teaches young children how to take a known story and gradually insert new ideas and compose new expressions.

Storytelling uses some of these key ideas too, but there are aspects of the programme that will feel new and exciting. It is important to point out also that children engage with non-fiction texts of all kinds too – it isn’t just about narrative!

Children of all ages across the school become confident and adept at retelling and performing ‘stories’ aloud, to an audience. To become accredited, one of the criteria was that film clips should evidence that children from every year group are able to do this. Penny Bill, IA for Literacy KCC, noted the extraordinary confidence shown by children of all ages to tell stories aloud, without a text or prompt of any kind.

Other familiar aspects of the approach include using a ‘plot matrix’ (which is very similar to ‘boxing up’ each section or paragraph of a written sequence). Story maps are drawn too, sometimes using pictorial ideas from the guide.

There are a host of other strategies and techniques which are included in this pedagogical approach. These might include, for example:

  • Poems and pictures
  • Thought corridor
  • Cartoon strip
  • Paintings of key moments
  • Interview main character
  • Tell at home
  • Create a rap
  • Story exhibit
  • Story song
  • Re-enactment involving the whole class, sitting in a circle.

Classroom Environments

Every classroom environment is rich with language, vocabulary and inspirational displays. Working walls are used throughout the teaching sequence. Children and teachers engage with display, using it to inform, record, develop and celebrate learning.

Children of all abilities feel highly valued and are confident to use their voice in order to express themselves. Relationships between adults and pupils are strong and effective, encouraging children to speak up and speak out.

Assessment in writing

Assessment of writing takes place in many different forms. Pupils’ learning is assessed daily in lessons through teacher observations, conversations with pupils and through looking at the completed work. Pupils also assess their own learning using their targets and by evaluating their understanding against the learning stars. Peer and group assessment is another method used within our lessons. Teachers use this assessment to inform the planning of the following lessons, to ensure that all pupils are supported and challenged in their learning.

As well as assessing the children’s writing during our Storytelling and Topic lessons we plan an invention piece for the children to really show off what they have learnt. This, along with teacher assessment, forms our summative assessment for writing, which enables us to ensure that pupils are making good progress, identify the next steps and areas of need for individual pupils and address this through our future planning and/or through any interventions that are needed.

To find out more about English at Repton Manor, please contact the Writing Leader, Mrs Morgan.