Helicopter Stories Centre of Excellence

The Helicopter Approach of Storytelling and Story Acting is based on the work of Vivian Gussin Paley, Patron to MakeBelieve Arts. MakeBelieve Arts has been pioneering this work in the UK since its conception in 2002.

In its simplest form children tell their stories which are written down verbatim, word for word. The group then gathers around a taped out stage and the stories are acted out. –http://www.makebelievearts.co.uk/helicopter/

Alongside the simplicity of this approach is an ethos that is child-centred, creating a culture of curiosity and wonder at the dexterity of children’s imaginings during both the telling and the acting out of their stories.

“The classroom has all the elements of theatre, and the observant, self-examining teacher will not need a drama critic to uncover character and plot, and meaning. We are, all of us, the actors trying to find the meaning of the scenes in which we find ourselves. The scripts are not yet fully written, so we must listen with curiosity and great care to the main characters who are, of course, the children.” — Vivian Gussin Paley

 The Helicopter Approach has strong links with the EYFS and …

  • Develops confidence, curiosity, concentration and communication skills in all children regardless of ability.
  • Increases turn taking, attention span and speaking and listening skills.
  • Demonstrates spectacular and measurable gains in spoken narrative and language development skills even for pupils with SEN or EAL.
  • Enables pupils to see their stories acted out, and gain reinforcement of the meanings of the word through their total engagement with the process.
  • Provides practitioners with evidence of children’s progress in language and communication.
  • Keeps a class of 30 children attentive, because no-one knows what will happen next and what the next story will contain.

Helicopter Approach Centres of Excellence

These centres of excellence are ambassadors of the approach, host observational visits from teachers from other schools and actively use the Helicopter Story Blog to blog stories, anecdotes or videos of the Helicopter Approach in action.

A year and a half ago the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation funded a robust evaluation of the Helicopter Approach and The Open University evaluated the approach. One of the suggestions and outcomes of the evaluation was to award settings as Centres of Excellence in the approach.

These awards are given to those select Early Years settings that deliver regular Helicopter sessions and are able to share the benefits of the approach with neighbouring schools.

They are ambassadors of the approach, host observational visits from teachers from other schools and actively use the Helicopter Story blog to blog stories, anecdotes or videos of the Helicopter Technique in action.

In February 2017 Mrs Veale successfully completed the training to become a Helicopter Champion and Mrs Dixon as her deputy. Because of this we are extremely proud that Ash Grove Academy is now a Certified Centre of Excellence.

To find out about our upcoming Helicopter Stories training dates please see the flyers at the bottom of this page.