At Key Stage 2, the curriculum specifies that children should study the Roman Empire and its impact on Britain. It lists non-statutory examples of material that could be covered:
- Julius Caesar’s attempted invasion in 55-54 BC
- the Roman Empire by AD 42 and the power of its army
- successful invasion by Claudius and conquest, including Hadrian’s Wall
- British resistance, for example, Boudica
- ‘Romanisation’ of Britain: sites such as Caerwent and the impact of technology, culture and beliefs, including early Christianity
It also makes reference to the legacy of Greek or Roman culture (art, architecture or literature) on later periods in British history, including the present day and Ancient Greece – a study of Greek life and achievements and their influence on the western world.
Learning at key stage 3 ‘should extend and deepen pupil’s chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, so that it provides a well-informed context for wider learning’. The curriculum for history provides explicit opportunities for building on knowledge of classical civilisation and making links to classic tales.
The aims of the English curriculum focus on pupils’ acquisition of ‘a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language’. It states that spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing and notes that ‘the quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers should therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills’. There are clear opportunities for use of classic tales story telling materials here; providing a rich seam of resources for expanding vocabulary, exploring linguistic conventions and improving written work.
The statutory guidance for English states that in years 3 and 4, pupils should continue to have opportunities to listen frequently to stories and in years 5 and 6, they should be able to summarise and present a familiar story in their own words. Classic tales story telling materials very clearly meet these aims and can be built upon here.
At key stage 3, the emphasis is on developing an appreciation and love of reading, and read increasingly challenging material independently and ‘reading a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, including in particular whole books, short stories, poems and plays with a wide coverage of genres, historical periods, forms and authors, including high-quality works from English literature, both pre-1914 and contemporary, including prose, poetry and drama; Shakespeare (2 plays) and seminal world literature’ Classic tales materials can greatly contribute to encouraging a love of reading and introducing more challenging material e.g. through making classic tales accessible to lower level readers and spurring on better readers to looking at different translations of the texts on which the recordings are based.
There is a strong emphasis on the development of listening, discussion and debating skills including listening and responding in a variety of different contexts, both formal and informal, and evaluating content, viewpoints, evidence and aspects of presentation. Discussing themes of classic tales recordings are a rich resource to meet these curriculum aims.
There is also reference to ‘improvising, rehearsing and performing play scripts and poetry in order to generate language and discuss language use and meaning, using role, intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action to add impact’. The classic tales recording provide ample examples of performance aspects which can contribute to this type of learning.
The statutory guidance for teaching citizenship at key stages 3 and 4 also places emphasis on the skills required for debate and skills to think critically and debate political questions which could be linked thematically to classic tales. Pupils must also:
- acquire a sound knowledge and understanding of how the United Kingdom is governed, its political system and how citizens participate actively in its democratic systems of government
- develop a sound knowledge and understanding of the role of law and the justice system in our society and how laws are shaped and enforced
There are links to be made here about the origins of democracy and the role of storytelling in exploring political and values-based themes.