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Chisenhale on being a Centre of Excellence and more…

Written by Kate Shelley, EYFS Coordinator, Chisenhale Primary School

When I first arrived at the school the teachers led helicopter stories but after seeing Trish deliver a session I realised we had much to improve in our delivery. When I heard about the helicopter training I jumped at the chance to get involved.

We were very lucky to have both training and follow up sessions with MakeBelieve Arts where they supported us to make sure the delivery was right. What seemed like a very simple concept brought up lots of questions and the training we had was the key to it working as well as it does. MakeBelieve Arts were very supportive. They made our team feel comfortable and developed lots of enthusiasm and excitement in my team.

The teachers and children are now very confident in delivering helicopter stories. We’ve modelled this for visitors and parents who are very interested in the technique. The children really love seeing their parents take part in acting out the stories.

One of the things we find really important is that all children can access this technique. We have such a wide range of children in our setting and all abilities can feel that their stories are valued. I think the biggest impact has been seen on the lower ability children and those with English as an additional language. This technique gives them a stage to express themselves where their peers value their ideas and participate in their story. This has really helped to develop their confidence levels.

The teachers who work in my unit are very excited about the work we’ve been doing with MakeBelieve Arts. They are full of stories and anecdotes. One child in particular, who has speech and language difficultie,s has really shown progress in his storytelling. In his first story he held his foot to his ear and all the children copied to his great delight. Now he is able, with the use of signing, to tell long stories.

It has been very interesting for the adults to see recurring themes in children’s stories and through this we’ve been able to talk about interests and children’s concerns.

I highly recommend this storytelling technique to other settings. It fits perfectly with the early years ethos and the new curriculum, valuing individual children. It has been a real pleasure working with MakeBelieve Arts and their enthusiasm, passion and knowledge has really got us thinking carefully about our practise and next steps.