PEP Seminar: To what extent do opportunities for children’s storytelling and story acting support the development of speaking in early childhood? With Gorana Henry ( 4-5pm London Time, 7th Feb 2022, free, online)

About this event

Presenter: Gorana Henry, Deputy Headteacher, Wessex Gardens Primary School

The number of children with poor language skills on entry to school is growing in the UK. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are on average 4 months behind when they start school. This word gap remains consistent throughout their schooling, putting them at a higher risk of exclusions and diminishing their life chances. This situation has been compounded by the effects of the pandemic and there is now an even greater need for us to deploy impactful practices in order to narrow the gap.

This practitioner-led, action research project seeks to address the language and communication gaps in early childhood, with a focus on the impact on disadvantaged pupils, particularly boys. It explores the extent to which opportunities for children’s storytelling and story acting support the development of different components of the Speaking strand of the Early Years Framework. Building on the work of Vivian Gussin Paley, the classroom-based approach centers on children initiating and creating their own stories. These stories are scribed verbatim, and then acted out by children in an area of the classroom marked out as a stage. A scale and scoring system for the stories is devised and used to record and analyse the progress of children’s Speaking development.

The project tracks two cohorts of children: 14 Nursery children as they move onto Reception and 26 Reception children as they move into Year 1. Findings indicate that the approach, used alongside other approaches, can support the closing of the gender and disadvantage gaps in Communications and Language. More specifically, data show that boys and disadvantaged pupils had made accelerated progress in the consistency of their use of tenses, as well as in organising and sequencing of ideas – thus narrowing the gap with girls or their non-disadvantaged counterparts, respectively, in these areas. In addition, boys had made accelerated progress in their use of connectors.