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Double scoop for Rochdale in storytelling competition

14 January 2020

Children and teacher sat in a candlelit classroom.

2 primary schools have lit up a national competition about storytelling in the dark with unique tales about witches, jelly, owls and hedgehogs.

Sandbrook Community Primary and Castleton Primary have been crowned national champions in the contest organised by Tales Toolkit – an organisation that produces interactive, child-led resources that teachers can use to encourage children to create and write stories.

Schools across the borough have been using 'Tales Toolkit' to enhance pupil's language and communication skills and help harness their enthusiasm for storytelling as part of the council's work on school readiness.

'We are fully committed to developing the communication and language skills of young children'

Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children's services, said: "We are fully committed to developing the communication and language skills of young children in their early years and this is a clear demonstration of the impact our work and the work of our schools is having. It's a wonderful achievement."

Sandbrook Community Primary were crowned storytelling champions with their story on a friendly owl and the prickly hedgehog in the night. Katy Copeland, teacher at Sandbrook, said: "Tales Toolkit is a wonderful resource which impacts massively on many areas of learning including confidence, creativity and communication skills. We have so much fun using it. We were thrilled to hear we had won 1st prize in the 'In the Dark' themed story, especially as we only started using Tales Toolkit in September. We are going to use the voucher we have won to purchase a set of big bags which our children will be able to loan and use to create stories at home with their favourite toys."

Pupils from Castleton Primary posing with scary faces.

'It was big storytelling with big imaginations'

Kate Shelley, from Tales Toolkit, said: "We absolutely loved the effort that went into Sandbrook's entry - starting with the children dressed for night time in their PJs and the lights in bags, it was big storytelling with big imaginations."

Castleton Primary developed a story around Jasper the witch who, in her cave, casts water into jelly. The pupils told the story in witches' costumes, acting out their scary faces and storytelling voices. Gemma Duggan, foundation lead at the school, said: "The children love Tales Toolkit sessions which we do every week. It has really helped to ignite their imagination and enables all children to participate at their own level. It has really supported them to understand the structure of a story and they are now able to identify the character, setting, problem and solution in other texts we read. The ideas for the story for the competition came solely from the children, they've a fantastic imagination."

Tales ToolKit will be working with more schools and parents in the borough for the next 2 years as they have successfully won £80,000 from OVO Energy's charity fund to help support parents and children develop their communication skills through play-based storytelling.