The basic idea of Storytelling 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 teach it.
At Cirencester Primary School this idea is placed at the heart of learning. All students are taught a repertoire of stories for every year that they are in the school, linked up to their topic and literacy targets. This is often planned out as one story every half term, from Reception through to Year 6, so that students graduate with a repertoire of more than 40 stories.
We believe that all children benefit from developing their storytelling skills throughout their education. Storytelling provides a natural way of developing rich and active story language, for children to recycle in their own story making and writing. We also see the simple joy and magic of storytelling 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.
We often start off with oral tradition stories, as they are usually 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, we then link the story to the teaching goals for that term. In literacy, this will include shared and independent writing, innovation and invention, and non-fiction text types. In other words, the story can be used to teach all the narrative aspects of the literacy curriculum.