12th April 2018

Staff at The Collett School extend their knowledge of pedagogy by engaging in class-based research. Recently, Robins’ class teacher, Emma Graham, has been inspired by a blog that posed the question: are we really supporting children’s language development during child-led play? (Alistair Bryce-Clegg ABC Does). This triggered a discussion with her EYFS team of teaching assistants and agreement to try some of the strategies with Robins to build confidence and oracy skills.

Having gotten into the swing of searching for new resources, Emma followed her TA Tracey’s recommendation to use ‘helicopter stories’ to promote creativity and storytelling. The book We All Have a Story by Trisha Lee led Emma to introduce a helicopter stories approach to her class, which puts the child at the centre of the creative process. An adult sits with the child and scribes their stories verbatim; next the whole class act these stories out. Helicopter stories entail a non-judgemental environment for children to share their narratives where nothing is wrong. Used regularly, it provides a platform for all children to engage with the creative process regardless of their ability or level of literacy. Robins Class have amassed a volume of work to evidence enjoyment and higher attainment in literacy skills as a direct result of their teacher’s belief in learning orientated classroom in which high aspirations set the bar for all to make progress.

The EYFS team is now on their next research project to develop reading space in the classroom. They are considering to try the Communication Friendly Spaces Approach (CFSA) that focuses on the role of the environment in supporting speaking and listening skills, emotional wellbeing, physical development and increasing general engagement. Elizabeth Jarman, the author of this concept claims that “it is critical to understand how the physical space should connect with its intention. I think it’s essential to tune into the environment from the learner’s perspective”. As the CFSA involves much more than merely altering the physical learning space, this will lead the team to touch on the theoretical base of the approach for the work to be successfully completed and implemented.