Storytelling kit helps close gender literacy gap

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A storytelling programme can help reduce the literacy gap between girls and boys, according to new research.

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The Tales Toolkit helps boys in particular to improve skills linked to literacy and creativity

A study by the unit for school and family studies at Goldsmiths, University of London found that boys aged between two and five who used Tales Toolkit, a storytelling programme developed by a former teacher, closed the ‘literacy gap’ with girls by 62 per cent.

The research suggested there was no longer ‘any statistically significant difference’ between boys' and girls’ scores after they used the programme for a year.

In contrast, the study found the gap widened by 22 per cent in a group of boys who did not use Tales Toolkit.

Overall, the analysis of 662 children in ten schools across England showed that both boys and girls in classes using Tales Toolkit demonstrated progress in areas such as communication, language and creativity, and their socio-emotional skills improved around three months ahead of peers who did not use the programme.

Participating schools reported all children using Tales Toolkit improved across the seven early years learning target areas and enjoyed lessons more.

Tales Toolkit provides schools with child-led resources based around symbols to represent the story structure of character, setting, problem and solution.

Staff are provided with online interactive training in how to use the resources and ongoing support is provided to promote literacy, communication, creativity and socio-emotional development.

Tales Toolkit is currently used for children up to age seven in more than 120 schools across the UK and training on using the programme is currently being provided in 10 other countries.

Dr Alice Jones Bartoli, author of the report and director of the unit for school and family studies at Goldsmiths, said, ‘This is the first stage of our evaluation of this child storytelling programme for schools, and the results are extremely positive and encouraging.

‘Our research suggests that Tales Toolkit can have benefits for all children, but is particularly useful for helping boys to engage with and improve skills associated with developing literacy and creativity.’

Dr Julian Grenier, headteacher at Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Newham and a national leader in education, said Tales Toolkit helped children make quicker progress.

‘We see children joyfully sharing their ideas and stories with practitioners and with their parents. The gains in confidence and enjoyment have been striking.’

Kate Shelley, the founder of Tales Toolkit, said the programme ‘allows teachers the freedom to be creative and fun with their children.

‘The progress in all early years learning was substantial and demonstrates the value of learning in a way which is meaningful and based on children’s interests.’

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